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Legislation would create electronics recycling plan

Associated Press

ST. PAUL — The Legislature moved closer Tuesday to making electronics manufacturers shoulder some of the cost of disposing of products they sell.

A bill establishing a statewide system for collecting and recycling televisions, computers and similar devices from homes passed the House by a 112-21 vote. The Senate could act soon on a similar measure.

"Technology is constantly improving and changing, meaning that more of these products will be replaced for newer models," said Rep. Brita Sailer, DFL-Park Rapids. "This bill makes sure that manufacturers will share in the responsibility that up until now has fallen primarily on counties and property tax payers."

Every television or computer manufacturer that sells equipment in Minnesota would be required to register with the state. They would have to pay $5,000 the first year, and $2,500 a year afterward. They would be given targets for recycling and be charged fees if they fall short. Proceeds would be used to fund collection programs.

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Recycling targets would be based on the weight of items they sold the previous year.

The bill is designed to head off illegal dumping of electronic waste, which contain lead, mercury, cadmium and other hazardous substances. Last year, lawmakers banned old equipment from landfills. But a lack of convenient and inexpensive recycling options in many areas has resulted in televisions and monitors being thrown in ditches and woods.

Opponents argued that the fees will filter down to the customer level.

"All this bill does is punish the manufacturers and put the additional costs on the consumers," said Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar. "I don’t want my constituents to have to pay more for computer monitors and TVs."

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