Environmental -- 2010

Consumer Electronics Association v. City of New York   (S.D.N.Y.)

Validity of New York's oppressive e-waste law

New York City adopted a very strict electronic waste collection law that mandates manufacturers of computers, monitors, televisions, laptops, portable digital music players and other equipment to set up door-to-door collection programs and collect a prescribed amount of discarded products every year, or pay a stiff fine. The law also imposed retroactive liability for products already sold, and requires manufacturers to pick up products made by other manufacturers. Only manufacturers are held liable; distributors, retailers, consumers, and the City of New York are not responsible for sharing in the cost of this waste collection program.

The Consumer Electronics Association and the Information Technology Industry Council sued the city, and the NAM put together a coalition of business groups to file an amicus brief in support of a motion for a preliminary injunction against the law. Our brief warned that the proliferation of state and local laws such as New York City's E-Waste law would impose a severe burden on manufacturers in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, in part because it would shift costs that should properly be borne by the city's own residents and taxpayers to out-of-state manufacturers. The law could disrupt and discourage voluntary industry efforts, and penalizes companies that have no control over consumer decisions regarding the disposal of their products.

In many ways New York's law is much different from other local and state laws, and the NAM is concerned that many products other than consumer electronic products are being targeted for similar treatment. This is a long-term issue that will be addressed in a variety of ways, and the NAM will be active in helping to develop reasonable solutions.

Late in May, New York State passed a new electronics recycling law that preempts all local regulations like New York City's. On June 28, 2010, the court approved a settlement agreement dismissing the litigation. The parties agreed to work together to develop an accessible system to collect used electronics in New York City.

Related Documents:
NAM brief  (December 11, 2009)


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