Wisconsin’s Electronic Recycling Law Updates

DNR is planning to develop regulations implementing Wisconsin’s electronic recycling law (2009 Wisconsin Act 50; now contained in WIs. Stats. 287.17)) that established a stewardship program known as “E-Cycle Wisconsin” for the collection and recycling of specified electronic devices from the state’s households and schools. To date, the department has not promulgated any rules to formally implement this program.

The goals of this rulemaking are to:

· Ensure the electronics recycling program created by s. 287.17, Wis. Stats., continues to function well, including maintaining streamlined registration and reporting practices and preserving a level playing field among program participants.

· Protect human health and the environment by providing more consistent oversight of electronics recycling operations in Wisconsin.

Specifically, the proposed rules would:

1. Codify existing registration and reporting practices for electronics collectors, manufacturers and recyclers that register with the department under s. 287.17, Wis. Stats. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/287/II/17

2. Codify the department’s guidance clarifying whether specific electronic devices meet definitions under s. 287.17 (1), Wis. Stats. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/287/II/17/1

3. Add criteria for whether materials derived from eligible electronic devices are “recyclable” under s. 287.17 (1) (m). https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/287/II/17/1/m

4. Modify manufacturer registration fees to reduce or eliminate fees some small electronics manufacturers pay to the department under s. 287.17 (4) (b), Wis. Stats. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/287/II/17/4/b

5. Clarify and modify some operational requirements for recyclers registered under s. 287.17 (8), Wis. Stats.

6. Codify existing practice of allowing recyclers registered under s. 287.17(8), Wis. Stats., to sell credits for recycled pounds (sometimes called “paper” pounds) to other registered recyclers within a program year.

7. Clarify and strengthen owner financial responsibility requirements for recyclers registered with the department under s. 287.17 (8), Wis. Stats., to ensure that adequate funds are set aside for full cleanup of electronics recycling facilities, and that the department or relevant authorities in other states can access and use the funds when needed.


8. Clarify retailer outreach requirements under s. 287.17 (9), Wis. Stats.


9. Codify department practice implementing the suspension and revocation authority in s. 287.17 (10) (h), Wis. Stats.


10. Require a solid waste processing license under s. 289.31, Wis. Stats., for most electronics recycling operations.


Additional rule changes or clarifications may be pursued which are reasonably related to this initiative.

Changes to Chapters NR 502 and 520 will affect individuals or facilities that store, sort, dismantle, shred or otherwise process electronics and components derived from electronics. Some of these may also be E-Cycle Wisconsin participants. By requiring a solid waste processing license for electronics recyclers, the revised rules will allow the department to provide a list of licensed recyclers to individuals, businesses, institutions and organizations wishing to recycle electronics. The rule would not directly affect businesses that must recycle, reuse or manage their electronics as hazardous waste, but are not covered by E-Cycle Wisconsin.

The expected timeframe for the development  and promulgation of the rule package is 460 hours of state employee staff time, with a public hearing projected to be scheduled in April 2021.

A copy of the Statement of Scope can be accessed through the following link:


Submitted by

Mark Steinberg and David Seitz, TRC Companies