Some may ask the broader question about whether government, the private sector, or some amalgamation of the two is responsible for handling our electronic waste. That answer is up to policymakers and industry to decide. Today, it’s mostly up to businesses to curb e-waste.

As the topic of electronic waste gains more and more momentum in the world press, we see more photos of junk heaps and dumping grounds full of e-waste. Often with corporate logos prominently displayed or with investigative reporters singling out businesses or brands in their broadcasts. This, among other pressures, has caused most large corporations to institute protocols and procedures for e-waste handling.

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Unless you’ve been under a rock, you probably know that a new iPhone is coming out very soon. This will be the first new iPhone from Apple in about 18 months. That, alone, will mean a lot of people will be trading in their old one to get a new one.

Then if you add in the fact that the iPhone is now available on most major U.S. cell networks (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T), whereas the earlier iteration of the phone wasn’t, then you have millions of new customers who can now get the world’s most popular smart phone.

This means that Apple is poised to sell tens of millions of new iPhones in the coming months and before the end of the year. It also means that all of those smart phones will be replacing older phones that are going to be destined for the waste bucket.

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There are 24 states in the United States (plus New York City) that have comprehensive e-waste laws and regulations. We are going through each of them to see how they have been implemented and the history and purpose behind each. Today, we are looking at the state of Washington, which passed its law in 2006.

The law required producers of specified electronics to be responsible for disposal starting on January 1, 2009. The program allows consumers (including small businesses, schools, and households) to dispose of e-waste free of charge. E-waste is defined under Washington law as televisions, computer monitors, and desktop and laptop/notebook computers.

The program is unique in that it gives each item a “return share” as percentage of its CEP (collected electronic products), by weight. The CEP is calculated by the Department of Ecology in Washington based on the number of items returned to recyclers the previous year. Under the law, manufacturers are required to label products clearly with brand name and register those brands with the Dept of Ecology.

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There are 24 states in the United States (plus New York City) that have comprehensive e-waste laws and regulations. We are going through each of them to see how they have been implemented and the history and purpose behind each. Today, we are looking at the state of Connecticut, which passed its law in 2007.

This simple law went into effect on January 1, 2009. It requires manufacturers of TVs, laptops/notebooks, desktops, and computer monitors to bear the costs of processing and recycling their branded and “white box” products (called Covered Electronic Devices or CEDs).

The law began by requiring registration of brands and set standards for licensing Covered Electronics Recyclers (CERs). Most of the recycling onus is put directly on the manufacturers, who must provide drop off points for business and consumers to use for their old electronics. Since the law’s implementation, most of these points are at authorized retailers of the products, though many retailers have begun accepting all CEDs, regardless of manufacturer.

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