The North Carolina General Assembly is considering a catch-all regulatory reform bill that would, among other things, end the ban on dumping electronics in landfills, allow sales of pet turtles, and let local distilleries sell online.
Electronic waste contains a lot of nasty stuff. Toxic heavy metals – like lead and cadmium – have consequences, says Democratic Senator Floyd McKissick.
“It's dangerous to the public, and it can lead to long-term groundwater contamination, long term soil contamination,” he said during debate Monday at the state Senate. “Those are things we should not back away from.”
In 2010, North Carolina lawmakers banned electronic waste from landfills. But a lot’s changed since then, says Senate Republican Trudy Wade. She argues those TV sets and computers are sitting on the grass at some local recycling centers.
“The problem is the counties can no longer find a recycler. There isn't a market for it,” Wade said Monday.
That’s not entirely true. But as the amount of e-trash grows, prices have fallen. And much doesn’t get processed in the U.S. at all – it’s shipped overseas.
So Wade says recycling should end, and the state should allow electronics to go into landfills – relieving local governments of the burden of running recycling programs.
The bill approved Monday in the state Senate also ends fees collected from electronics manufacturers that helps pay for recycling.
The Regulatory Reduction Act of 2016, also would relax energy efficiency standards for some buildings, eliminate some reports to the state Environmental Management commission and end a state ban on selling pet turtles. [Sales were banned about 40 years ago over fears of salmonella contamination.]
Wrapping so many issues into one bill is another concern for critics such as McKissick.
“It puts together about six, eight different things, all into one large expansive bill, when many of these issues really deserve separate discussion and separate consideration,” McKissick said.
The bill also would let local distilleries sell online.
Andrew Porter, of Doc Porter's distillery in Charlotte, says he’s forced to use an online distributor in Washington, DC. That costs North Carolina tax revenue, he says.
Still he has mixed feelings about the bill overall – such as the end of electronics recycling.
“We wanted to support the bill because there was some helpful stuff for us in there. But there was other things that I didn't quite agree with,” Porter says.
The bill now goes to back to the House, which has to approve Senate changes.