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What are SB20 Units and Why Are They Free?

Many household devices contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium, lithium and barium. These elements can cause a wide range of health problems including, but not limited to: brain damage, birth defects, liver, kidney and skeletal damage. In the event that a landfill cap is damaged, these chemicals can easily leak into ground water contaminating soil and water supplies. In order to reduce this risk, the State of California enacted Senate Bill 20 or SB20 in 2003.   This provided funding for proper disposal of specified electronic items.

The law covers the following items:

1. Cathode ray tube containing devices (CRT devices)
2. Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
3. Computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes
4. Laptop computers with liquid crystal display (LCD)
5. LCD containing desktop monitors
6. Televisions containing cathode ray tubes
7. Televisions containing liquid crystal display (LCD) screens
8. Plasma televisions
9. Portable DVD players with LCD screens

On January 1, 2005 California residents began paying $6.00-$10.00 when they purchased an SB20 item. The money is deposited into the Electronic Waste Recovery Account, managed by the Board of Equalization. This money is used to help qualified recyclers cover the recycling costs for the SB20 items. In 2008 these costs increased again.  Listed below are the current fees paid when purchasing new SB20 items.

–  $8.00 for screens larger than 4 inches and less than 15

–  $16.00 for screens 15 inches to 35 inches

–  $25.00 for screens 35 inches or larger

When purchasing a new SB20 item, the recycling fee is not subject to tax.

When you recycle your SB20 items at Greencitizen it will be free!  This is because you or someone else has already paid the recycling fee upon purchasing an new SB20 item.

Form filled out by customers when recycling an SB20 unit at GreenCitizen
Form filled out by customers when recycling an SB20 unit at GreenCitizen

How is the SB20 law regulated?

The SB20 Law of 2008 manages the disposal of electronic waste for California residents; however it does not regulate exportation of electronic waste. Presently there are no statutes and regulations operating at the federal level

in the United States regarding the export of electronic waste. However, the SB20 law implies federal government will regulate export of electronic waste. The SB20 law regulates by requiring manufactures to label items containing hazardous materials and pro

vide consumers with information for proper disposal information. Manufactures supply the management board with records for the items produced containing hazardous materials. Retailers must collect a fee for covered electronic items. In order for a collector or a recycling center to receive this payment, they must undergo an application process and be approved by the California Integrated Waste Management Board.

The California SB 20 law is unique because it was the first State law to address electronic waste collecting and recycling; however it does not fix the problem entirely. Greencitizen’s goal is to fix the problem by ensuring that waste is not shipped overseas where it can be de-manufactured without proper human rights and environmental standards.

James Kao is the founder/CEO of GreenCitizen, which provides products and services that help make every day Earth Day. He's passionate about data and sustainability, with a deep background in launching, funding, and managing successful tech companies. James enjoys spending quality time with his family, hiking, traveling, watching well-made documentaries, and eating good healthy food. read more »

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