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Whose Burden is it to Recycle Computers? 553

Posted by Cliff
from the better-than-the-garbage-dump dept.
bostons asks: "California places the financial burden of dealing with the electronic waste on consumers, charging a $6 to $10 disposal fee on every computer and television purchased. Maine puts the onus on manufacturers, demanding they pay the full cost of recycling their computers or televisions and pick up a share of the recycling tab for products of unknown origin. Starting next year, Maryland will require manufacturers to offer free computer take-back programs or pay the state a fee. Which do you think is the most effective and appropriate option?"
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Whose Burden is it to Recycle Computers?

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  • Prepaid (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:31PM (#12708403) Homepage
    Sorry I didn't RTFA, but $6 to $10 isn't a lot to include in the total price, so this recycling-tax should be prepaid before it gets out of the shop. I think it'll be more difficult to enforce payment during the disposal.

    This extra cost is likely to go unnoticed because a single CPU/RAM/HDD price drop can easily cover that amount.

    One common problem with prepaid tax (like petrol) is they took the money, used it on something else, and turned around to say they don't have enough money for roading/accident management.

    Hence it's important for the authority to not only impose the tax, but also acknowledge it, so that consumers can simply put the computer/TV out on the street for collection and the authority must fulfill its duty to dispose them appropriately.
    • Sounds like what a number of European countries are working towards: including the full lifecycle cost in the purchase price, and ensuring that the money goes to what it was supposed to. It not only helps make sure that hazardous wastes stay out of landfills (as a disposal charge would encourage people to do things like put electronics in the trash can), but encourages producers to make environmentally friendly decisions wherever it is economical to do so, without telling them "You will do things this way,
    • What happens if I, as the consumer, just dump my old monitor or CPU into the dumpster? The tax was paid, but the money was never spent and the computer is right where it shouldn't be.

      The problem right now is that there's no incentive, other than my conscience, to recycle now. Even if it was free, it still doesn't make people want to get off their butts and do the right thing.

      Taxing items when they are sold is worthless because people buy a lot of this stuff on the Internet where tax collection is going
      • Bottle deposit laws are unpopular enough. Look at the bitching in Hawaii. Image the outcry from the Libertarians on a $10 monitor deposit law. By the way, CRTs have lead, but LCDs are just as bad with mercury, etc.
      • I agree about the lack of incentive. How about a $10 deposit instead, with an imprint of some sort on the bottom of the device saying "Deposit Paid" - when it dies, take it to an appropriate disposal site and get the $10 back... or throw it in the dumpster and the unclaimed fees go for cleanup...
      • Well, actually a LOT happens when you throw the computer/monitor (or television) in the Dumpster in California.

        Because I am somewhat of a freak, I have actually toured our local dump [insidewoodland.com], and asked these very questions.

        First, the money that California collects goes to the local landfills. Each landfill becomes a collection point for these electronic devices. They also set up collection points throughout the city. Disposing of electronic devices (new or old) is now free...(because of the tax.)

        The landfill
        • Well, actually a LOT happens when you throw the computer/monitor (or television) in the Dumpster in California.

          You aren't kidding. Sounds highly expensive. So, what happens if I bag the monitor first so the instpectors can't see if it's an electronic device or just a run of the mill body part.
    • There should be a sliding tax scale. Why should the guy who makes $10 an hour pay a whole hours worth of work to have his monitor disposed, when the guy making $80 an hour only has to pay 7 minutes of his time for the same government service??

      It is not fair. One guy must work for 60 minutes and the other for 7, to have their trash taken away.

      The anwser is to have a luxery tax based on income. Those in the bottom half would pay nothing. Those in the top 50% would pay some fee, and those in the top 25% w

      • There should be a sliding tax scale. Why should the guy who makes $10 an hour pay a whole hours worth of work to have his monitor disposed, when the guy making $80 an hour only has to pay 7 minutes of his time for the same government service??

        Because they are both getting the same thing, recycling service. Should we charge different amounts for people to get there license? buy a stamp? use a toll lane? pay overdue fees on a book?. Youre alreay taking more money (both in % and in dollars) from the guy maki

    • You're all talking as if recycling stuff is a burden rather than an opportunity.

      For a start, pull scales better than push so instead of making people recycle what you want are people going around scavenging old kit to use for other stuff. At the moment the economics are such that it isn't worth doing this but what if you made it extremely tax friendly for those who do the scavenging? After all, they are providing a social service by taking this unwanted kit.

    • Re:Prepaid (Score:2, Insightful)

      I totally agree with you. I know plenty of people who have not recycled their monitors because of the $10 fee. If you build taht fee in upfront no-one will care. Now, that being said, don't make it a tax. Have the manufacturer charge it but know that it is a liability they will have to refund to a recycling firm 5 to 10 years down the road. The company would still make out really well in that situation, because they would get to use the money for several years and then pay out and alot of people wont r
    • Sorry I didn't RTFA, but $6 to $10 isn't

      It can be in some cases. I bought a 20" LCD, and paid 8$ to recycle ... not a big deal right? I bought a 2.5" LCD display for a project, and paid I think 6 or 7$ to recycle it, and I only paid 60$ for the LCD ... so in that case I think the fee was pretty outrageous.

      My question is, what am I getting for my money? They are happy to take my money but what service are they providing in return? Am I entitled to free recylcing service for these LCDs? As far as I

  • I personally pay the "old pit by the highway" to take care of my old computers...one good chuck and the disposal is all paid up :)
    • And rather than make two small piles of garbage. . .

      Sing it with me the next time it comes around on the guitar.

      KFG
      • Yes sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I added all of my personal files to the hard drive at the bottom of the garbage.
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @06:00PM (#12708718)
        > > I personally pay the "old pit by the highway" to take care of my old computers...one good chuck and the disposal is all paid up :)
        >
        > And rather than make two small piles of garbage. . .
        >
        > Sing it with me the next time it comes around on the guitar.

        This post is called "Natalie's Restaurant", and it's about Natalie, and the Restaurant, but "Natalie's Restaurant" is not the name of the Restaurant, it's the name of the post, and that's why I named this post "Natalie's Restaurant".

        You can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant,
        You can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant,
        Monitors, just around the back,
        Just a half a mile from the railroad track,
        And you can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant.

        Now, it all started about two posts ago, it's on two posts ago when CmdrTaco and I went up to eat some hot grits at Natalie's restaurant...

        ...we got up there, found a couple of monitors in the dumpster behind Natalie's, and we figured it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the spare monitors and distribute 'em around to our other friends at the University that didn't have 21" CRTs, 'cause that's what the Movement was supposed to be all about in the first place, right?

        So we took about half a ton of monitors and stuck 'em in the back of a VW microbus (with RedHat on an old laptop hooked up to a GPS receiver and other implements of destruction) and headed away from the grits shop.

        We got back to the University and there was a big sign across the dorm rooms sayin' "Prepaid Recycling Tax Effective As Of Thanksgiving". And we had never heard of payin' $10 for reusing garbage on Thanksgiving before, so with tears in our eyes we drove off lookin' for another place to hand out the free monitors.

        We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the road there was a classroom in a fifteen-foot trailer, and inside the trailer was a little pile of 14" monitors. And we decided that a portable classroom fulla 21" monitors was better than a portable classroom fulla 14" monitors, and rather than see a buncha kids tryin' to work at 640x480 on 14" screens, we decided to give 'em ours.

        That's what we did, and drove back to Natalie's to post about it on Slashdot, had a plate o' Thanksgivin' Grits that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning... when we got a phone call... from Officer Obie of the California Computer Recycling Use Fee Commission.

        He said "Kid, we found your name on a Post-It Note on the bottom of a 21-inch CRT in a classroom, and the Teachers' Union just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said "Yes Sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie... I put that Post-It note on that CRT."

        After speakin' to Obie for about 45 minutes on the telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and take back the untaxed freebie monitors, and also had to go down and speak to him at the Environmental Officer's Station. So we got in the RedHat VW Microbus with the old laptop, GPS navigation system and other implements of destruction and headed on down towards the Environmental Officer's station.

        Now friends, there was only one or two things Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was he coulda given us a medal for bein' so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and the second was bawlin' us out and told us never to be seen upgradin' school computers around the vicnity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the environmental officer's station, there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately arrested. Handcuffed.

        • by MarkGriz (520778)
          Awwww... that's the Radio Edit version.

          Do you have the full version?
          • by Tackhead (54550) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:35PM (#12709506)
            > Awwww... that's the Radio Edit version.
            >
            >Do you have the full version?

            (In for a penny, in for a pound. Might as well finish the job!)

            > > I personally pay the "old pit by the highway" to take care of my old computers...one good chuck and the disposal is all paid up :)
            >
            > And rather than make two small piles of garbage. . .
            >
            > Sing it with me the next time it comes around on the guitar.

            This post is called "Natalie's Restaurant", and it's about Natalie, and the Restaurant, but "Natalie's Restaurant" is not the name of the Restaurant, it's the name of the post, and that's why I named this post "Natalie's Restaurant".

            You can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant,
            You can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant,
            Monitors, just around the back,
            Just a half a mile from the railroad track,
            And you can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant.

            Now, it all started about two posts ago, it's on two posts ago when CmdrTaco and I went up to eat some hot grits at Natalie's restaurant...

            ...we got up there, found a couple of monitors in the dumpster behind Natalie's, and we figured it'd be a friendly gesture for us to take the spare monitors and distribute 'em around to our other friends at the University that didn't have 21" CRTs, 'cause that's what the Movement was supposed to be all about in the first place, right?

            So we took about half a ton of monitors and stuck 'em in the back of a VW microbus (with RedHat on an old laptop hooked up to a GPS receiver and other implements of destruction) and headed away from the grits shop.

            We got back to the University and there was a big sign across the dorm rooms sayin' "Prepaid Recycling Tax Effective As Of Thanksgiving". And we had never heard of payin' $10 for reusing garbage on Thanksgiving before, so with tears in our eyes we drove off lookin' for another place to hand out the free monitors.

            We didn't find one. Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the road there was a classroom in a fifteen-foot trailer, and inside the trailer was a little pile of 14" monitors. And we decided that a portable classroom fulla 21" monitors was better than a portable classroom fulla 14" monitors, and rather than see a buncha kids tryin' to work at 640x480 on 14" screens, we decided to give 'em ours.

            That's what we did, and drove back to Natalie's to post about it on Slashdot, had a plate o' Thanksgivin' Grits that couldn't be beat, went to sleep and didn't get up until the next morning... when we got a phone call... from Officer Obie of the California Computer Recycling Use Fee Commission.

            He said "Kid, we found your name on a Post-It Note on the bottom of a 21-inch CRT in a classroom, and the Teachers' Union just wanted to know if you had any information about it." And I said "Yes Sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie... I put that Post-It note on that CRT."

            After speakin' to Obie for about 45 minutes on the telephone, we finally arrived at the truth of the matter and said that we had to go down and take back the untaxed freebie monitors, and also had to go down and speak to him at the Environmental Officer's Station. So we got in the RedHat VW Microbus with the old laptop, GPS navigation system and other implements of destruction and headed on down towards the Environmental Officer's station.

            Now friends, there was only one or two things Obie coulda done at the police station, and the first was he coulda given us a medal for bein' so brave and honest on the telephone, which wasn't very likely, and the second was bawlin' us out and told us never to be seen upgradin' school computers around the vicinity again, which is what we expected, but when we got to the environmental officer's station, there was a third possibility that we hadn't even counted upon, and we was both immediately

        • by wings (27310)
          You ought to at least credit Arlo Guthrie for
          writing Alice's Restaurant http://www.arlo.net/lyrics/alices.shtml [arlo.net]
    • Odd logic: you go dump your old stuff on roadside when you could, with approximately the same amount of effort, bring it to some collection point and have people, who are effectively paid by you with the $10 recycling fee you've already shelled out, take it away from you.

      If you care about recycling, then you'd see your tax dollar at work and you'd feel good about doing your bit for the planet. If you don't, you can still watch people work for you instead of having to haul junk out of the trunk by yourself.
    • You mean you don't actually pile all the old stuff up in your basement? The yawning chasm of clutter is my solution.
    • Well, except what you pay in higher taxes to cover the cost of cleaning up the pit.
  • What !?! (Score:4, Funny)

    by lordsid (629982) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:32PM (#12708417)
    ... You mean we can't just keep stacking them up in a corner somewhere?
  • charging a $6 to $10 disposal fee on every computer and television purchased. Maine puts the onus on manufacturers, demanding they pay the full cost of recycling

    which they swiftly pass onto consumers. Net result: consumers always pay for recycling (which incidentally sounds rather normal).
    • Actually, i would expect a $6-10 recycle fee at purchase, would put it on the reseller instead of the consumer. one would assume that such costs go to the consumer but usually, resellers have certain price points they stick things at. Nothing is ever $2005, it's usually $1999. The wholeseller may add in the $6-10 to their price raising the price the reseller pays to get the product, but rather than just raise the consumer price the same amount, they'll probably suck up the cost out of their profit to keep t
      • they'll probably suck up the cost out of their profit to keep that same sell point.

        Or skimp on the hardware quality/features/whatever.

        /me shrugs
      • You have got to be the most optimistic person I have seen in years. It is testament to the fact that cronie capitalism can't crush everyones spirit.

        The only hidden aspect of your situation is that those resellers are the customers of the electronics manufacturer, not you. When the customer says, you need to drop the cost by $10 dollars to maintain margins, that quality capacitor that keeps your TV color balanced just so for the lifetime of the product is junked in favor of one with half the expected life
    • No, no Michael Dell is going to pay this right out of his own pocket.
      </sarcasm>
    • Well, not really. If they pay for recycling at the same time as they buy the TV, the recycling is paid for, and they drop it off for free at the recycling center, or even leave it on the side of the road with their garbage to be picked up Tuesday afternoon.

      If, however, they have to drive it to the recycling center and fork over a few bucks to get the thing off their hands, a good portion of the people will simply leave it in the most convenient drainage ditch, roll it down the nearest ravine, or dump it be
    • The end customer always pays all the fees, fines, taxes, whatever.

      That's because there is no other source for a company to acquire the money than from sales. Sales are it, folks. All costs are passed on, they're costs. By definition.

      What's silly is the assertion that it is possible to "punish" a company. All it does is raise the costs, and therefore the price of the end products.

      Bob-

  • Ha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific@y a h oo.com> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:33PM (#12708428) Homepage Journal
    ...$6 to $10 disposal fee...

    Ha! Joke's on them! Most of my computers were fished from dumpsters.

  • I don't think anyone on slashdot has ever thrown a computer away..


    • Almost true. I gave my PDP-11/03 to my little brother last year!

    • I don't think anyone on slashdot has ever thrown a computer away..

      I am reading this on my 386 in a text only browser. You got something against that?

      I know a guy who collects 486's. He has about 20 working machines in his basement, many with a monitor hooked up. Each computer station is manned by a G.I. Joe action figure or Transformer. My buddy goes in front of the class and teaches for 4 hours a day. It is a grueling schedule for him.

      Many of his students have gone on to work for prestegious compa


    • I actually have some stuff I need to get rid of, but I've been holding onto it until I can find a responsible way to do it. There's a recycling facility about 30 miles away, and it costs like $10 or so per item, but I'd rather expend the effort and see this junk end up there, than in a landfill or something.
    • There are plenty of good reasons to throw a computer away. Toss away a pentium 2 and an old power-gobbling monitor, and replace it with a ~150$ ebay 800Mhz laptop with the same size screen. You'll get better performance and pay it off on your power bill.

      And this ignores the obvious reason to throw things away: broken hardware. Of course, it it's not very thick, and is fairly lightweight, you can use it for geeky decor - I hang motherboards and cards on my computer room wall at a 45 degree angle. It loo
  • by pHatidic (163975)
    Every consumer electronics item should be sold with a deposit that is a percentage of its value. That way, consumers have to recycle the product at the end of its lifetime to get their money back, just like with aluminum cans.

    Currently there are armies of homeless people who roam around the cities and countryside picking up cans to claim the deposits. However the problem is they only pick up the empty cans and leave the other trash on the ground until it washes into the lakes, rivers, and oceans after the
  • I don't care who pays for it as long as I don't have to do anything. As long as I can call for special pickup and dump it on the curb like anything else then it could cost me $50 more for my state tax for all I care.

    But if I have to do anything different from what I would with normal odd-sized trash then I'd just throw it in the dump when they aren't looking and then everybody loses.
  • Whose Burden is it to keep the computers in a landfill?

    If the computers are not recycled, they will most likely end up on the side of the road or in a landfill. Considering that there are materials in the computers which are toxic, this means that the toxins will eventually leak out into the surrounding environment.

    So before we ditch recycling, the following questions should be asked: Whose Burden is it to keep the computers in a landfill? Whose Burden is it clean up the toxins? Who's burden is it to pay
  • On recycling companies.

  • If you buy a computer from Dell, they send you a DHL shipping label for recycling your old computer. It's free for the customer and you can just use the box that your new machine came in. It would be great if more companies could offer this kind of service.
  • So it's sort of a moot point. The money may travel a circuitous route, but if you force manufacturers to cover the cost of recycling, it will filter into consumer cost one way or another.

    Doesn't everyone just sell their old computers for ten or twenty bucks on eBay? People actually throw these things away?

  • by pv2b (231846)
    If you tax manufacturers to pay the recycling bill, the cost increases will just be passed on to the consumers, either directly or indirectly.

    Adding a surcharge on buying electronics is perfectly reasonable. After all, it's not like those "EVIL MANUFACTURERS" are alone responsible for creating this awful toxic waste that has to be recycled. If nobody were to buy the items, the manufacturer wouldn't manufacture them. The manufacturer only manufactures to satisfy a need in the market.
  • It does not matter whichever way. We (consumers) ultimately pay the state AND the manufactuer to carry it away.

    Knowing state governors, they will probably charge us at POS, then go ahead and bill manufacturers, who will in turn put the tab on our bills.

    Oh i can forsee it something like this:

    1. Cost of iBook 14" 512 MB RAM: $1456.00.
    2. State cess towards hazard disposal: $10.00
    3. Manufacturer charges for waste disposal: $10.00
    4. County charges: $6.00

    We will end up paying $26.00 for a $10 charge because the s

  • It does not matter who pays for it, it is the consumer's burden. Consider the four alterantives for disposal:
    1. If the buyer/consumer is legally required "properly dispose" of a the computer, then the consumer pays directly.
    2. If the seller (computer maker/dealer) is required to do it, then the consumer will still pay for it in the form of a higher price on the computer
    3. If the government offers "free" disposal then the taxpayer (= the consumer) pays for it. (Admittedly it may be non-computer-using taxpayers
    • If the government offers "free" disposal then the taxpayer (= the consumer) pays for it. (Admittedly it may be non-computer-using taxpayers that shoulder some of the burden)

      More importantly, the taxpayers who shoulder that burden are the ones who can best afford it, assuming it's funded by a progressive income tax rather than something like sales tax.

      A college student making $12,000 a year has a lot less disposable income than a CEO making ten times as much, and if everyone is charged the same flat rate
  • ..but it will always be the consumer that pays. You don't think manufacturers will just let any government levy come out of their profit margins, do you?
  • How does a computer enter the waste stream? The consumer buys it, uses it, and then decides for his own reasons that he doesn't want it any more and discards it. I see no reason to put the onus on the manufacturer or vendor here. Once you buy it, it's yours and it becomes your problem. I don't notice anyone ponying up to pay for keeping my old washing machine and dryer out of the landfill -- I had to haul them to the scrap metal recycling bins myself. This is no different.

    Besides, it's not hard (at le

    • Because if the manufacture has to pay to recycle the computer, then it is in the interest of that manufacture to make their computer easier to recycle. Ultimately the computer will be come useless; there where millions of 86 and 286's made yet nobody wants them now. At this point they need recycling. But why would you want to use market forces to solve the problem is a beyond me :)
  • It is unfair to charge a person a disposal fee at the time of purchase, because it is entirely possible that the person will handle disposal himself at some later point. Rather, a disposal fee at the landfill gate will target those buyers who chose to dispose of a computer in that way. Recycling companies may do likewise (and perhaps compete with landfills.) Lastly, the consumer may simply choose to keep the old hardware in his basement, or bury it on his own land.

    (Why yes, I do have a stack of old tire
  • Equivalent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by readams (35355) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:44PM (#12708551)
    According to basic economic theory, no matter who the tax is levied on, the end result will be the same, depending on the elasticity of demand. If demand is highly elastic, then the manufacturer ends up bearing the burdern of the tax, and if demand is flat, then the consumer ends up bearing the burden, with a whole spectrum in between.
  • It may not solve the disposal problem, but services such as FreeCycle [freecycle.org] helps old, but usable, items find new homes. The longer people can use an item, the fewer items per year that need to be disposed.
  • by standards (461431) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:49PM (#12708608)
    The ideal situation would be to place the burden on the market in such that there is an incentive to reduce costs.

    Therefore, if manufacturers have the burden, they will have to charge customers indirectly by increasing purchase price (after all, customers pay for everything in the end).

    And if manufacturers carry the direct burden, they will also have the desire to lower disposal costs. Instead of a flat $6 for disposal costs, the manufacturer will want to lower it as close to zero as possible.

    This becomes a win-win. It costs the consumer in the end (as it always does), but manufacturers have a strong incentive to minimize the disposal costs.

    At the end of the day, I'll speculate that this could be a profit center for the manufacturer - the resale of whole components and quality recycled raw materials could wind up making them money.

  • I'm in favor of placing a disposal tax on anything which needs disposal. The tax collected could be paid to folks who cleanly dispose of things (including recycling them). This would improve the economics of recycling, help reduce landfill, and provide a financial disincentive against excessive packaging.

    And while we're at it, gasoline tax should pay for, say, 75% of the Defense budget.
  • Easy Answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ndansmith (582590)
    Biodegradable Comptuers.
  • We recently bought a laptop from Dell. I didn't want a dell, but mum wanted one, and nothing in the world could convince her otherwise. The hard drive died on Monday.

    But anyway, there were no fees for computer disposal on the bill. We didn't get any literature about "end of life of your laptop" or anything like that. And the price of it included no hidden fees that I couldn't explain away. If they are putting the burden on manufacturers, they aren't living up to it.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @05:54PM (#12708648) Homepage
    The action should reflect the purpose as directly as possible.

    That said, I am reminded of the fact that, in Texas at least, places like JiffyLube and any place that changes oil are required to accept old motor oil for proper disposal at no charge. This is a burden on these oil changing places but the purpose is to benefit the evironment, not to "tax" people. This approach is definitely not a tax and has the least amount of bureaucratic overhead. (The benefit to the oil-changing people is that because the outsiders still need to dispose of their used oil properly or face heavy fines if they are caught which means it is less convenient to change their own oil and since they need to make the trip to the lube shop anyway, they just might get more business in the process.)

    With that as my own mental image of what an appropriate solution might be, a mandatory "take-back" program is the only way I think is appropriate. Then the sellers can do whatever they [legally] need to do in order to dispose of them properly. This would accomplish the main purpose, which is to decrease the amount of this waste in landfills. Taxing is not appropriate in this case.
  • I just paid $8 of recycling fee on a new TV in california. I don't really mind, I guess, if this is in fact funding something that makes it relatively easy for me to recycle it later. I once went to a dump with one, and they wanted to charge me $15 or something like that to take it. I turned around and left it on the curb for someone to take instead.

    What I fear is that this "fee" is really going to be tossed into the general fund, and no useful recycling program will be created. Then it's just a

  • In either case, the consumers pay. Computers that are sold in Maryland will mean additional costs for those manufacturers, and they will simply pass that cost along to the buyer. Of course, since they can't simply raise the cost on boxes sold in Maryland (well, they could, but that would simply drive more people away from retail stores and to online sales), they'll slightly raise the costs on all the boxes they sell, resulting in all consumers paying additional money to make the Maryland government happy.
  • You need to charge the party who can't wriggle out of paying. Unfortunately, parties like that are few and far between, if we're talking about a state-level effort.

    If a state tries to get the consumer to pay for disposal at the end of the computer's life, he's quite likely to toss it in the ditch, which is worse than tossing it directly into the dump.

    If a state tries to get the manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer to pay for disposal at first sale or import into the state, you run into the same collec

  • Charge companies at the point of manufacture for the disposal fee something like $25. If the computer then gets recycled, the manufacturer gets back $10 and the consumer gets $10. The remaining $5 goes towards the cost to recycle it. If possible, there shouldn't be a cost as they would hopefully be able to make money from refusbishing some of the old computers and use that to subsidize the ones which are total junk.

    So yeah, prices will go up but at the very least it's an incentive for manufacturers to i

  • Where I live, you get charged a disposal fee if you buy a tire. If they don't actually dispose of an old tire, too bad, they're required by law to charge you anyway. Then if *YOU* take that tire in to be recycled, then you get charged a recycling fee on top of it. It's similar with other products like batteries.

    If it weren't for idiocies like that, then I'd be much more open to these sorts of fees.

    steve
  • I've got news for you, just like taxes, the full cost gets passed on to consumers no matter what mechanism is in place to collect the fees.
    • the full cost gets passed on to consumers no matter what

      Congratulations for passing economics 101. Now if only the rest of Slashdot could...

  • Which do you think is the most effective and appropriate option?

    Neither. The only appropriate option is for someone to figure out how to make recycling computers profitable (like some waste oil recyclers, glass recyclers, and aluminum recyclers). Socialism and laws are only going to create more crime, and not less mess

    BBH
  • Quite a few scrap metal recyclers are getting into the business of recycling computers. They strip out the precious metals and handle the hazmat issues. They are also getting into the business of recovering chips from the computers and reselling the good ones; these companies make more off of reselling the good chips than they do the precious metals!

    Or, if you are so inclined and the machine still works, donate it to a school, a boys/girls club, or any one of a number of charitable organizations.
  • that the option of telling the government to stay the hell out of private interests is out? Yeah, yeah, environment and such- but just think when they extend this to general recycling of plastic and paper. Who pays- the manufacturer of the milk bottle, the consumer, or the supermarket? What about magazines- the publisher or the buyer?

    Can we get a 1 cent discount if we recycle a magazine? 2 cents for a beer bottle?

    I know that computers are a bit different because of the caustic bits insides them, but s
  • If the state charges the manufacturer, the manufacturer will charge the retailer, and the retailer will charge the consumer. Ergo, the most efficient way to do this is to allow the money to pass through the least number of hands, and charge the consumer directly.

    e.g.:

    State-> $10 recycling fee
    Manufacturer-> $10 recycling fee + $2 recycling facilitation fee
    Retailer-> $10 recycling fee + $2 recycling facilitation fee + $1 fee collection cost offset charge
    Consumer-> $13 total cost

    vs.

    State->
  • I am not certain that computers would have gotten into an obsolete-in-eight-months cycle if not for Microsoft's programming for the next generation processor and memory. When Microsoft was pushing for use of the 386 for their system, I was using an 8086 or 286 with superior software.

    Microsoft has been and will likely continue to be the primary corporate beneficiary of hardware escalation (OK, the hardware companies haven't been hurt by it). Thus, they should pay the bill.

    Nah, I don't really think th
  • I'd like to see some kind of electronics recycling program set up (possibly at the federal level) that makes it easy for the average person to drop off their unwanted electronic devices.

    At the moment, I have a pile of computers lying around that I'd like to get rid off, but I don't want it to end up in a landfill or have their most toxic parts scattered on the ground of a third world country.

    I can always donate working hardware to schools in the community, but what about stuff like these $30 dvd players w
  • by Jherek Carnelian (831679) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @06:06PM (#12708769)

    One way or another, the customer is always the one who pays, it is just a question of "how much?" and "when?"

    My preference is that the fee be levied as far down the "value chain" as possible - probably at point of sale, like it is for the states with recycle fees on soda containers.

    Charging the fee at point of sale does a couple of good things:

    1) The customer knows what they are paying for, it isn't hidden away in the total price. This knowledge helps to prevent the fees being raised as an arbitrary form of taxation - income tax gets taken out of most people's paychecks before they ever even see the money, thus obscuring the direct impact of the tax. I wish to avoid that happening with any new taxes.

    2) If the fees were directly assesed to the distributor or manufacturer, then they would be inflated with each step in the process just as the price of the system is. In effect, paying the fee at point of sale is like paying the "wholesale" cost but charging the manufacturer the fee would result in it being marked up to "retail" pricing by the time the end-consumer pays for it, possibly even doubling the original "wholesale" fee level for no added benefit to the environment or the consumer.
  • Maine puts the onus on manufacturers

    Just in case anyone's socialist tendencies kick in and think that Maine really is making the manufacturers pay, guess what: The end consumers are paying this in the form of higher prices from those manufacturers. And I bet that New Hampshire stores near the Maine border were happy to hear this news. Their prices will suddenly be relatively lower.
  • I'd like to see the public sector do it -- they should offer free computer disposal, and fine people who just toss their machines.

    Almost everyone uses computers now, and they're integral to the economy. So even if some people end up subsidizing others, it wouldn't be horribly unjust -- it would be defensible on the same grounds that other kinds of economic supports for business would be.

    The advantage of the system I'm proposing is that it would probably get computers out of the landfills. It would work.
  • If the manufacturer pays for disposal/recycling, the cost will be off-loaded to the consumer via higher prices.

    Either way, you and I will pay the bill.
  • The best solution is to make sure that the full cost of the cleanup/recycle is incorporated into the purchase price of the item. I think both these schemes have a chance to do that.

    Putting the burden on the manufacturer's could create some healthy competition - companies with more efficient recycle options would be able to offer cheaper and maybe even less toxic products.
  • Require the manufacturers to handle recycling and make collection service reasonably available to consumers. This way the fee can be built into the price of products, which ensures that manufacturers keep the process efficient to prevent negative impact on the bottom line. It will also ensure that the process doesn't get lost in government bureacracy, which is what I feel prevents a lot of recycling from happening now. I honestly have no clue how the hell to get a computer recycled in my city, but I'm sure
  • I don't really see why it makes much difference if we charge the end user for disposal, or make the manufacturers cover it. If the manufacturers have to pay for this, they'll just figure the expense in to the price paid for the machine when it's new ... so in effect, the consumer pays anyway.

    The thing I find slightly ironic/interesting is, we have all this concern and hype over PC recycling lately -- yet computers aren't really made of components any more hazardous in landfills than TV sets. And we've be
  • Individuals tend to find these laws easy to avoid. Having companies deal with it en masse makes it harder to avoid paying for the disposal, and easier for centralised places to manage it.
  • California actually passes the "burden" onto the seller (I have a California reseller license, so I had to agree to these terms when I got the license), and the sellers have the "option" of passing the cost onto the consumer (more like the responsibility to collect this from the consumer).

    But in the end it's the seller that has to pay the State for this cost; whether they collect the fee from their consumers is up to them.

    Also, effective July 1, 2005, LCDs and Plasma TVs are included; in the past it was j
  • ulimately, the consumer pays the cost - if it is a tax or the manufacturers pay it will be passed on to the consumer as a higher price for the item.

    Companies tend to like a tax - they can charge it and blame it on the politicians since it appears seperate from the price of the item;

    Politicians tend to prefer a hidden cost so they bear no fallout from the added burden.

    What is more effective - well, I tend to think if manufacturers have to pay for disposal and take back equipment they will try to find a wa
  • It HAS to be free (Score:5, Insightful)

    by smchris (464899) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @10:53PM (#12710849)
    I live on one side of a shallow urban brook that has many good points: ducks, geese, carp, turtles and the occasional heron. Unfortunately, it has a tire in it about every 40 yards or less. 1/4 mile upstream on the other side is the municipal physical plant that accepts recycling. They charge to take tires.

    The conclusion seems obvious. Hell, I don't even have incentive to volunteer my time to fish them out if I will suffer the insult of paying to deposit the fruits of my good citizenship.

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