California labeling bill hits electronics recyclability

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California lawmakers recently approved legislation regulating the labeling of plastic packaging, with implications for electronics as well. | Bobkeenan Photography / Shutterstock

California legislation targeting how plastic packaging is labeled also affects recycling labels for consumer electronics, according to industry groups.

Senate Bill 343 was passed by the California Assembly on September 8 and by the State Senate on September 9. The bill, drafted by Senator Ben Allen, a Democrat, is now heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office for a signature.

The bill seeks to regulate labeling on plastic packaging, allowing only the classic recycling symbol of chasing arrows on packaging that the state deems “recyclable.” But the bill also makes changes to some electronic devices.

Depending on the text of the bill, devices can carry certain labels without being subject to the new criteria if they are covered by California’s e-scrap program, cell phone recycling law, or battery recycling laws. . California’s covered e-waste program applies to many video display devices, including CRT televisions, plasma televisions, LCD televisions, monitors and other displays, including most tablets. State cell phone recycling regulations require retailers to accept cell phones for recycling.

Under SB 343, when these devices are sold new (CRT devices and plasma televisions are no longer sold), the products and their packaging would be able to convey “an instruction to the consumer to dispose of properly or to manage properly ”through state programs. .

But other situations would cause more complications for OEMs.

For example, if a device is not covered by a state program, any labeling will need to meet new state guidelines for what is “recyclable.” The California Department of Recycling and Resource Recovery (CalRecycle) would develop these guidelines, and manufacturers would be required to provide information to support their recyclability claims.

In addition, labeling on devices covered by state programs may be subject to new guidelines if the original equipment manufacturer wishes to highlight take-back or take-back initiatives outside the scope. of the state program.

The text of the bill does not include criteria for determining recyclability specific to electronics. But he notes that, for materials not collected in curbside recycling programs, a type of product or packaging would be considered recyclable if 60% (and, as of 2030, 75%) of the material sold in the state is recovered and whether this material has sufficient commercial value to recycle effectively.

A group of industry associations opposed the measure for a number of reasons. The group, which includes the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Rechargeable Battery Association (TRBA), said the labeling move could hurt electronics recovery in California.

In a statement to E-Scrap News, CTA highlighted some key concerns about the changes.

The Consumer Technology Association opposes California Senate Bill 343, which conflicts with labeling provisions in other US and global jurisdictions and will stifle the ability of producers to order their consumers to recycle highly recyclable products such as batteries and electronics, ”said Katie Reilly, Director. of CTA’s environmental policy. “The consequence will be a decrease in recycling rates for these highly recyclable products. “

Newsom has until October 10 to sign the bill.

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