Over 8 years in the making, law will keep harmful toxins out of environment

MADISON — Officially sealing an environmental victory nearly ten years in the making, Governor Jim Doyle today signed Senate Bill 107, a law that will help keep dangerous toxins out of Wisconsin’s environment by providing consumers with access to convenient sites to properly recycle and dispose of electronic waste (e-waste) like old computers, printers, televisions, and VCRs.

“For years, consumers have lacked an adequate system for conveniently and responsibly disposing of out-dated electronics, and these products have either cluttered shelves in basements, closets and garages, or ended up in landfills where they leach toxic chemicals into our air and water,” said Amber Meyer Smith program director at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “The law signed today will make sure that the manufacturers of electronics empower consumers to do the right thing by providing them with a convenient solution for disposing of e-waste without jeopardizing the quality of our environment and the health of our families.”

Electronic waste often contains toxic mercury that pollutes Wisconsin lakes, rivers and streams threatening the state’s fishing industry and endangering human health. Beyond mercury, e-waste often also contains cadmium, lead, chromium and bromated flame retardants. When electronic waste is land-filled, these toxic substances leach into the ground and water, threatening human and environmental health.

Authored by Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Rep. Penny Bernard Schaber (D-Appleton), the bill signed today bans certain electronics from landfills and requires manufacturers of these electronics sold in Wisconsin to provide consumers with a means of properly disposing of electronic devices. The bill passed both legislative chambers with strong bipartisan support, passing the Assembly by a vote of 57-37, and the Senate with a vote of 23-10.

“Our legislators in the Capitol deserve great praise for committing to make Wisconsin a cleaner, healthier place to live by providing consumers with a convenient means of properly recycling dangerous E-waste,” said Smith.

As almost any household or office in Wisconsin has seen, electronic waste is the fastest growing component of waste generated in the United States today. Currently, less than 10 percent of electronic waste is recycled properly. If the U.S. recycled all of its electronic waste, 20 million tons of e-waste would be diverted from U.S. landfills. Clean Wisconsin’s office alone recycled over 400 pounds of electronic waste last year.

“Today’s signing of the E-waste Bill is a monumental victory for the future quality of Wisconsin’s environment and for the health of our residents,” said Smith. “Today we can look forward to a stronger, more sustainable future for our state and for our residents.”