In late 2021, the Council of the District of Columbia passed a law allowing only eStewards-certified facilities to be used in the eCYCLE Program. This law prevented the use of R2-certified companies and limited opportunities for companies that were not e-Stewards-certified. However, circumstances have recently changed.
In January, a new bill was signed by the D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that reversed the 2021 bill. The Battery and Electronic Stewardship Amendment Act of 2022, or B24-1000, makes several tweaks to the city’s extended producer responsibility (EPR) program for electronics, including allowing OEMs to contract with R2-certified or eStewards-certified facilities to recycle covered electronics.
B24-1000 has been in the works since fall 2022 and increases producers’ requirements to provide public outreach and education. The new legislation comes after the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) testified about the negative impacts of the 2021 bill that prevented the use of R2 vendors. Grievances over the council’s 2021 decision were expressed in a letter written by CTA’s senior manager of environmental and sustainability policy, Ally Peck.
“This change caused a two-thirds reduction in the number of electronics recyclers manufacturers could work with in 2022 to meet their obligations under the law, increased the cost of collection and recycling, and limited the ability of registered organizations to work with possible R2-certified permanent collection site partners,” she wrote. “There are 25 states in the U.S. that have some type of electronics stewardship or takeback law in place; all allow R2 and eStewards certified recyclers or recyclers that meet comparable qualifications to operate in their programs.”
The amendment to B24-1000 was made the following month and unanimously passed on Dec. 20 before being signed by Bowser earlier this year.
Executive director of Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), Corey Dehmey, expressed gratitude for the council’s decision to allow R2 companies again. “We are grateful that D.C. was willing to reconsider their decision and are pleased that all R2-Certified facilities will be available to serve the residents of Washington, D.C. for the responsible reuse and recycling of their electronics. To make electronics sustainable, we need to continue to expand options for every city, county, state, and country around the world, and this decision keeps us on that path.”
B24-1000 went into effect in March 2023.