State legislators say a law that requires South Carolinians to recycle their computer monitors has been almost too successful, leading to disputes between counties and recyclers over who should handle the material.
Since 2011, South Carolina residents have been required to recycle most electronics, including televisions, computers, and even phones. That’s led to a boom in “e-cycling,” which has grown from nearly 3,900 tons in fiscal year 2010 to over 9,200 tons last fiscal year.
That has turned into a profitable business for recyclers, who gut the computers for valuable metals inside and resell it. But that hurts county governments, which complain they are stuck with the costs of recycling the remaining skeletons.
“Basically, they were getting carcasses,” said Richard Chesley of the state Department of Health & Environmental Control’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction & Recycling. “And the carcasses have no value.”
Now, lawmakers say they want to help local governments ease some of those costs. The South Carolina Senate is currently discussing legislation that would require electronics manufacturers to set up stewardship programs around the state. Each manufacturer would be responsible for handling an amount of electronic waste calculated to be the equivalent of its U.S. market share.
The proposal passed the House in a 75-33 vote last month. State Rep. David Hiott (R-Pickens) said the language was part of a deal reached by the parties involved. “I think this is a good start because we’ve got to recycle (electronics). We can’t throw them in the landfill,” he told South Carolina Radio Network.
But opponents of the bill (nearly all of them Republicans) said they could not support forcing out-of-state manufacturers to pay for South Carolina’s recycling costs. Rep. Bill Hixon (R-North Augusta) called it a “hurry-up fix.”
“Once you put it on the manufacturers, they pass it on to the consumer,” Hixon told South Carolina Radio Network.
A Senate agriculture & natural resources subcommittee was scheduled to take up the proposal last week, but the meeting was canceled due to scheduling conflicts with some senators. It has not been rescheduled.