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North Carolina Bill Would Cut Funding For E-Waste Recycling

A pile of discarded computers and other electronics.
Curtis Palmer
A pile of discarded computers and other electronics.

A bill in the North Carolina House would let computer and television manufacturers off the hook for fees that subsidize recycling of their products. The Senate has already passed the bill, even though it would still ban the items from landfills.

Now, recyclers and local governments are worried how they'll afford costly disposal. North Carolina still charges advance disposal fees for tiresand appliancesto keep them out of landfills.

Orange County Solid Waste Planner Blair Pollock says that has made it affordable and convenient to safely recycle them.

"We had a similar version of that with the electronics law. So to take away that leg of the stool that provides the funding, even though the ban will remain in place, it begins to undercut the structure that sustains itself and is able to continue to provide good service."

State Senator Trudy Wade told the News and Observer that the fee could deter manufacturing businesses from the state. Wade could not be reached for comment.

Blair Pollock says electronics recyclers are also important economic drivers who rely on those subsidies to keep recycling affordable.

"They're hamstrung as of right now, in terms of their ability to collect from local governments under the current price structure," Pollock says. "So the way the legislation is poised has created a little bit of gridlock and concern among all the parties."

Bill sponsors could not be reached for comment. And recycling specialists at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources declined to comment.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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