As 2023 came to an end, many laws related to electronics and battery recycling passed. Solar panel recycling gained traction. Going into 2024, what regulatory and law changes have passed, and what will be important to know about e-waste laws and regulations?

Right to Repair 

Have you had a phone, laptop, or other electronic device that needed repair but ended up easier or cheaper to replace than repair? It’s a common issue and one that can be eliminated by introducing right-to-repair laws.

Massachusetts passed the first automotive right-to-repair bill act in 2012. But, even with the act, there were still issues with access to telematics, so that brought voters to 2020, when voters supported access to their vehicle’s data to share it with any repair shop they selected. South Dakota followed in 2014 with SB136. That kick-started the Digital Right to Repair Coalition, which bolstered right-to-repair initiatives in many states. 

Four states enacted right-to-repair laws or additions to existing laws in 2023. They were:

  • California: Manufacturers must provide the tools and means to diagnose, maintain, and repair devices for three years if the product is under $100 or seven years for devices $100 or more, but they vetoed a powered wheelchair repair bill.
  • Colorado: Manufacturers of agricultural equipment must provide people with the information and resources required to repair the equipment on their own.
  • Minnesota: The Digital Fair Repair Act passed.
  • New York: Any electronics manufactured starting July 1, 2023, must include access to tools and parts for consumers to make their own repairs.

Many states have right-to-repair laws pending, but some did fail in 2023 and need to try again, including:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida (agricultural equipment)
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Oregon (consumer electronics right to repair)
  • South Dakota
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

A few states don’t currently have any laws in the works, and those states are Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Washington State’s New Battery Stewardship Program

Washington passed the product stewardship program for batteries in 2023. It’s going to take a few years for this law to play out, but the state started drafting the initial plans at the end of the year.

By 2026, the organizers of Washington’s new battery program will ensure that producers, transporters, and disposal facilities are prepared. Funding, safety procedures, and performance goals must all be readied by that day to ensure that the new statewide battery recycling collection system is ready to go on January 1, 2027. 

On that date, consumers will know how and where to recycle all portable batteries from flashlights, laptops, phones, and power tools. Other batteries will be added as the system gets underway.

New Packaging Recycling Requirements

One of the important parts of recycling electronic devices is the recovery of materials like glass and plastic. Plastic often contains PFAs that are harmful to people, animals, and the environment. To ensure plastic is used and recycled responsibly, packaging recycling requirements in many industries are changing.

New Jersey requires any electronic or consumer goods packaged in plastic to use at least 10% recycled plastic in rigid plastic containers. 

California expanded the state’s bottle bill to add a 10-cent redemption for wine and liquor bottles and 25-cent refunds on wine pouches and bladders found in boxes of wine. State lawmakers also are requiring all packaging in the state to be compostable or recyclable by 2032. Producers of plastic packaging must join a producer responsibility organization in 2024.

Oregon is one of the pioneers in EPR (extended producer responsibility) packaging laws. By 2025, manufacturers who use plastic for packaging items must pay fees that help fund recycling programs. If your new smartphone comes in plastic packaging at that point, the manufacturer will be paying the cost of recycling it.

Colorado decided to make it easier for consumers to understand which paper products are compostable. Producers of products that are not compostable cannot use packaging colors and images that may confuse the public into thinking an item is biodegradable. Colorado also created an EPR program for plastic, flexible foam, metal, and rigid paper packaging. 

In New Jersey, manufacturers have until 2036 to ensure at least 50% of the materials in their rigid plastic containers are recycled content. Plastic beverage containers must contain 50% or more recycled plastic by 2045.

Solar Panel Recycling Regulations

The EPA started making strides to improve the recycling of end-of-life solar panels and lithium batteries in October 2023. The organization plans to propose a rule to add solar panels to current universal waste regulations and to set official standards for lithium batteries. While the EPA may be slowly getting started, some states are passing their own regulations.

Rhode Island passed H 5675 in 2023, and the act went straight into law without any delay. People who need to dispose of end-of-life or broken solar panels must arrange to have them delivered to a Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation facility. The state determines the fee that will be charged.

Washington is also looking into solar panel recycling. The Photovoltaic Module Stewardship and Takeback Program is expected to start on July 1, 2025.

Illinois created the Renewable Energy Component Recycling Task Force to look into options for recycling and refurbishing energy generating components, including solar panels, and devices that store the energy.

Other Law Changes in 2024

Plans are to make e-recycling free for all Minnesota residents and businesses starting in 2024. A 4% fee for the sales of all electronic items is being voted on, and if it goes into effect, that money is going into an e-waste recycling fund.

Recycling electronics is easier than you might realize. If you’re still disposing of old electronics in the trash or forgetting about them in a closet, it’s time to change your ways.

Facilities across the U.S. collect used electronics, but you can also bring them to retailers like Best Buy, Goodwill, and Staples for easy recycling. They all work with ERI to ensure data is destroyed and e-waste is recycled within the U.S. ERI focuses on worker safety, environmental protection, and proper data destruction when recycling old items like laptops, smartphones, etc.

We also offer postage-paid boxes that you can purchase and fill with your unused electronics. Arrange pick-up services with our preferred shipper and items come to one of our recycling facilities. Reach us online or by phone to learn more about the postage-paid recycling boxes or the many other ITAD services ERI provides.