RealTime IT News

Tax Credits For Cutting 'E-Waste'

Legislation to provide tax incentives creating the first-ever nationwide electronic waste-recycling infrastructure was introduced in the U.S. Senate today by Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jim Talent (R-Mo.).

The Electronic Waste Recycling and Promotion and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 establishes an $8 per unit tax credit for companies that recycle at least 5,000 display screens or computer system units per year. Consumers who recycle their old computers and televisions with qualified recyclers would receive a $15 tax credit.

The legislation would also prohibit the disposal of any electronic equipment containing a display screen greater than four inches or any computer system unit in a municipal solid waste landfill. This would begin three years after the bill is passed.

"Growing mountains of e-waste are clogging our nation's landfills and posing great risks to Americans' health and to our natural environment," Wyden said at a Washington press conference. "As technology improves and folks get newer and faster computers, they need a safe and easy way to get rid of their old machines. This legislation gives consumers, recyclers, retailers and manufacturers alike incentives to recycle old computers responsibly."

Wyden said experts estimate that more than 150 million tons of electronic equipment, many containing lead, mercury and other hazardous materials, were disposed of in 2004 alone. Currently, some states are developing e-waste recycling programs; however, no such program exists on a national level.

"Americans don't want to throw their electronic scraps out with the garbage, but without a recycling infrastructure, sometimes the only alternative is stockpiling them in their homes," said Talent. "We want to provide an incentive for people to recycle electronic waste and create an infrastructure that makes the process as convenient and cost-effective as possible."

Wyden and Talent said a unified, national program may ultimately be desirable for consumers, because manufacturers and retailers frequently have a difficult time adhering to different standards under various state laws. Under the current system, states that do not enact their own recycling laws can become dumping grounds for those that ban e-waste disposal.

The bill also targets federal agencies by requiring them to ensure that every display screen or system unit procured by the government is recovered and recycled. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency would be directed to study and make recommendations to Congress within one year on the feasibility of establishing a nationwide recycling program that would preempt any state plan.