Council Votes to Make New York City the First City in the Nation to Require Electronics Recycling

Helping to protect the environment, groundbreaking legislation requires manufacturers to collect and recycle discarded electronics

City Hall, February 13th, 2008 – At tomorrow’s Stated Council meeting, the members of the City Council will vote on trailblazing environmental legislation that would require manufacturers to take responsibility for collecting and recycling electronic products they produce. The Council will also vote on legislation that would help to improve air quality in and around New York City’s waterfronts, by requiring city-owned ferries to use low sulfur-emission fuel as well as technology to reduce fuel exhaust pollutants from being released into the air. The Council will vote on two resolutions urging Congress to pass both the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act and the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007.

ELECTRONIC WASTE LEGISLATION
Helping to protect the environment and keep litter off City streets, the Council will vote on legislation to require manufacturers to take responsibility for collecting and recycling electronic products they produce. At their own cost, manufactures would be required to make arrangements to collect, handle, and recycle electronic equipment returned by consumers.

Upon passage of this legislation, New York City would be the first city in the nation with an electronics-recycling law. Furthermore, this legislation would include key collection standards for manufacturers, making it one of the most comprehensive electronics-collection laws in the U.S.

“Countless New Yorkers have an old television or computer cluttering up a corner of their home, but just don’t know how to dispose of it safely,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “This legislation will provide a way to recycle this electronic waste, and prevent it from pumping toxic chemicals into our air or water. And as an added bonus, it put the responsibility for recycling on the manufacturer, preventing further burden on consumers or on taxpayer dollars.”

“This is an exciting moment for our city. By passing legislation, we are helping to set the standard on electronic recycling for the rest of the nation,” said Council Member Bill De Blasio, lead sponsor of the bill. “New York City annually disposes of more than 25,000 tons of discarded TVs, computers and other electronic equipment, which contain mercury, lead, cadmium and other hazardous materials that not only endanger sanitation workers but contaminate our landfills, our water, and our air. It is time for manufacturers to take responsibility for the impact their products have on our environment. I’m proud to be a part of the effort battling against the growing problem of toxic electronic waste and I’m hopeful the rest of the country will follow suit.”

“The historic nature of this legislation cannot be overstated,” said Sanitation Committee Chair Michael McMahon. “We are diverting millions of tons of toxic time bombs from our nation’s landfill and incinerators. We will be spurring the reclamation of millions of tons of valuable resources and we will be saving the City of New York and its taxpayers millions of dollars. Just as significantly by establishing producer responsibility we are giving birth to a new era of sustainable waste management.”

Based on a report by the Environmental Protection Agency, it is estimated that New York City residents buy almost 12 million electronic devices (92,000 tons) every year. This includes TVs, computers, MP3 players and other electronic items. Nearly 25,000 tons of this electronic waste is picked up and disposed of at City taxpayer expense annually. Computers, monitors, and televisions contain lead; mercury; barium oxide; vinyl chloride; and other materials that are hazardous if burned, landfilled or recycled improperly. This legislation would both reduce the presence of toxic substances in the environment and reduce the amount of litter on City sidewalks.

GREEN FERRIES
Helping to improve air quality in and around New York City’s waterfronts, the Council will vote on environmental legislation that would require city-owned ferries to use low sulfur-emission fuel as well as technology to reduce fuel exhaust pollutants from being released into the air. The bill will also mandate the retiring of ferries are too old to meet these environmental standards. Upon passage of this legislation, all ferries must use ultra low sulfur diesel fuel by July 1, 2008.

“This continues our diesel reduction efforts which were launched with the passage of Local Law 77, Law which requires the use of low sulfur-emission fuel for reducing emissions on City construction projects,” said Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee Chair Alan Gerson, lead sponsor of the bill. “Diesel fuel and outdated technologies are a terrible source of pollution. With ferry services being expanded around the harbor, we felt that it was critically important to deal with this issue. With the vote we have taken today, and with the cooperation of the Administration, New York City is showing that it is serious about dealing with this ongoing and unnecessary health threat.”

“Retrofitting our ferry fleet to use ultra-low-sulfur diesel is a simple and obvious way to reduce New York City’s carbon footprint, said Environmental Committee Chair James F. Gennaro. “This legislation finally brings our ferries in line with the clean-air innovations we’ve already brought to our buses, taxis, sanitation trucks and other City government fleet vehicles.”

JAMES ZADROGA 9/11 HEALTH AND COMPENSATION RESOLUTION
In response to the widespread and serious health impacts of the 9/11 tragedy, the Council will vote on a resolution calling upon Congress to pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. The bipartisan Congressional legislation, introduced by New York Congress members Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, and Vito Fossella, would provide medical monitoring and treatment for anyone exposed to Ground Zero toxins, including first responders and those who worked, lived or spent time in the area around the World Trade Center during the time of the attacks.

Furthermore, the legislation would build on the expertise of the Centers of Excellence, which provide high-quality care to thousands of affected individuals. The Act would also ensure on-going data collection and analysis as well as provide compensation for economic damages by reopening the 9/11 Victim
Compensation Fund.

“On 9/11 New Yorkers did what New Yorkers do best – we came together at time of need to help one another,” said Speaker Quinn. “The bravery shown on that day by ordinary people told the world and the rest of the country what kind of people we are here – courageous, caring and willing to risk our own safety to help others in need. Now those very people who came to our aid when we needed it most need someone to stand up for them. They need us to help fight for their right to be cared for in a manner consistent with their sacrifice.”

“9/11 was the worst day in the history of our city, but it brought out the very best in those who risked their lives to help someone else,” said Civil Service and Labor Committee Chair Joseph Addabbo. “Now, it’s our turn to provide all we can to those who gave so much in the aftermath of the attacks. I am proud to sponsor this legislation. Congress must pass the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. By Congress approving this bill, they finally recognize 9/11 as a national tragedy – not just a New York City tragedy.”

“We owe it to the brave 9/11 first responders, volunteers, laborers and the downtown residents who are still suffering as a result of the attacks, to provide them with ongoing quality medical care,” said Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Committee Chair Alan Gerson, cosponsor of bill. “This bill will do that, along with expanding critical research efforts.”

VOTER INTIMIDATION PREVENTION RESOLUTION
The Council will vote on a resolution calling on Congress to pass the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2007. This congressional legislation seeks to increase penalties for those who engage in voter deception and intimidation. Specifically, this legislation targets those who provide false information about the time and place of an election; false information about the qualifications or restrictions on one’s eligibility to vote; and, the endorsement of a candidate by a person or organization.

Deceptive practices and voter intimidation often intentionally target traditionally disenfranchised communities, such as minorities, seniors, and young people, limiting the right to vote of millions of vulnerable Americans.

“While violence, overt racism, poll taxes, and three-fifths of a vote may be things of the past, minorities are now being kept away from polls through other strategies that aim to continue a tradition of disenfranchisement,” said Council Member Darlene Mealy, lead sponsor of the bill. “This federal legislation is essential to ensure that communities like mine will be able to count on fairness and decency at the polls.”

CITY CLERK APPOINTMENT
The Council will vote to approve the appointment of Hector Diaz to the post of City Clerk. Mr. Diaz has served as Bronx County Clerk since 1996 and prior to that was a member of the New York State Assembly. Mr. Diaz will be eligible to serve a six-year term that began on May 13, 2006 and expires on May 12, 2012. The office of the City Clerk is largely responsible for maintaining records of City proceedings.

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