Electronics Legislation Update

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Legislative Update

The Department of Health and Environmental Control has invited a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss potential legislative action related to the end-of-life management of electronic devices.

The South Carolina Manufacturer Responsibility and Consumer Convenience Information Technology Equipment Collection and Recovery Act (Act) became effective in 2011. The Act was passed in order to promote the recycling of electronic devices at the end of their useful life. Many electronic devices contain potentially hazardous material such as lead and mercury that can pose a hazard to human and environmental health if not properly managed. Electronics also contain valuable material such as gold, silver, copper, and other precious metals, that can be recovered through responsible recycling. Recycling these devices helps ensure that the valuable materials are recovered and reused, not disposed in landfills.

In order to promote the recycling of electronic devices, the Act banned the landfill disposal of specific residential electronics, including desktop computers, laptop computers, printers, and televisions. The Act also added requirements and recovery obligations for manufacturers of electronic devices that sell such products in South Carolina. Additional requirements in the legislation specify standards for recycling these electronic devices.

The requirements of the Act expire on December 31, 2021, apart from Section 48-40-90, which bans the electronic devices from disposal in solid waste landfills. Repeal of the act could have many impacts, most especially for local government electronics recycling programs. The Department of Health and Environmental Control has invited a diverse group of stakeholders to discuss potential legislative alternatives and next steps to ensure electronics are managed in a way that is protective of the environment, promotes recovery of useful materials and provides an equitable distribution of responsibilities.

A stakeholder meeting was held virtually on January 29, 2021, with representatives from the Department, electronics manufacturers, local governments, electronics recyclers, environmental organizations, and other interested parties in attendance. Discussion ranged from concerns over allocation of the recycling costs, revisions to what qualifies as a “covered device”, environmental risks, requirements for recyclers, and the December 31 sunset deadline.

A second meeting with similar representation was held virtually on February 5, 2021 which focused on the possibility of extending the sunset provision. Other discussion occurred regarding how to support the state’s recycling industry, the landfill ban on covered electronics, and how best to fund the costs of recycling electronic devices.

A third meeting with similar representation was held virtually on March 5, 2021 which focused on the best path to move forward on this topic. The stakeholder group agreed to support a 2-year extension of the current legislation until December 31, 2023, which will give time for policymakers, stakeholders, and other interested parties to formulate reforms to the current program. Discussion also took place on the next phase of the stakeholder group, such as breaking into smaller meetings for more intensive discussions on possible changes to the program.

Legislation to extend the provisions of Chapter 60, Title 48 of the 1976 Code and Regulation 61-124 was introduced in the House on March 4, 2021 and after being passed in the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs' Committee, was passed in the House chamber on March 16, 2021. It was then introduced in the Senate on March 17, 2021 and after being passed in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, was passed on May 4, 2021. 

On April 30, 2021, a smaller group of participants from the larger stakeholder group, titled the Electronics Sustainability Subcommittee, met to discuss the development of an electronics sustainability plan to be approved by the full stakeholder group. Deliberation about the expected passage of the legislation which would extend applicable sunset dates also took place. A proposed timetable was shared, illustrating issues for the subcommittee to discuss, including environmental protection, cost sharing, changing technologies, and device management concerns. Participants were encouraged to speak with others, solicit thoughts and concerns and brainstorm ideas. The next meeting of the Subcommittee is tentatively expected to be on May 21, 2021. View the tentative timeline here.

For more information, please email swregdev@dhec.sc.gov.