Local Governments: Electronics Recycling

e-cycle logo

South Carolina's electronics recycling legislation bans the disposal of specific electronics in solid waste landfills effective July 1, 2011. The legislation requires residents to recycle computers, computer monitors, printers and televisions. Specifically, residents "may not knowingly place or discard" a computer, computer monitor, printer and television "in any waste stream that is to be disposed of in a solid waste landfill."

Residents generally have three options to recycle their unwanted electronics: manufacturer take-back programs; retail outlets (e.g., Best Buy, Staples); and local government programs.

Requirements for local governments

The legislation (Section 48-60-140) requires that electronics collected through local government programs must be recovered in a manner that complies with all applicable federal, state and local requirements.

In addition, local governments must use a recycling vendor (recoverer) that - at a minimum - complies with the responsible recycling practices (R2) or other comparable industry or governmental standards. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control recognizes recoverers that have either  (1) R2 or  (2) e-Stewards certification .

Recommendations on managing local government electronics collection sites

Most county and many municipal governments offer collection sites for unwanted electronics from residents. While the size and type vary, local governments must operate the sites in a manner that protects human health and the environment. South Carolina's electronics legislation does not address the operation of collection sites for local governments, but does require (Section 48-60-140) that recycling vendors follow the industry's best management practices for collection and storage of electronics. Given that, it is recommended that local governments follow best management practices as outlined by the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse .

Computer monitor and television manufacturer obligations

South Carolina's electronics recycling legislation was revised in 2014 to add specific recovery obligations to computer monitor and television manufacturers (Section 48-60-50, 48-60-55, 48-60-140, 48-60-160). These obligations require a manufacturer of computer monitors or televisions to recycle or arrange to recycle either (1) 80 percent of the weight of computer monitors and television sold the previous year or (2) join a representative organization (partnership) of manufacturers that provides recycling services to local governments proportionate to their market share for the previous year. Specifics of these requirements are outlined in the legislation.

Given that, it is recommended that local governments not only work closely with recycling vendors to ensure that the vendor is certified (i.e., R2, e-Stewards or equivalent), but also to understand what, if any, agreement the vendor has with a computer monitor or television manufacturer. This understanding may help local governments reduce their costs for recycling of electronics.