Municipal leaders across the state say the state's six-year-old electronic waste recycling law is putting a costly burden on local governments.
Municipal leaders across the state say the state’s six-year-old electronic waste recycling law is putting a costly burden on local governments.
The Steuben County Legislature is expected to pass a motion when it meets at 10 a.m. March 21 in Bath, asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make municipalities and operators whole from the additional cost of electronics waste recycling.
The 2010 "e-waste" law requires manufacturers to manage and fund programs to collect and recycle electronic waste.
But Steuben County Department of Public Works Commissioner Vince Spagnoletti and other state officials say much of the cost and burden is falling onto municipalities.
“When the law was first put into effect, the thought was that the electronic manufacturers would take the items back from customers for recycling/disposal, at no charge,” Spagnoletti said. “But once the manufacturers fulfill the required quota for the year, they are no longer required to accept used electronics and then they end up coming to the landfill.”
Spagnoletti said Steuben County may end up paying $40,000 in 2016 for a recycler to take used electronics.
"The law is not working as intended,” Spagnoletti said. “They underestimated the amount of (discarded cathode ray tubes) CRTs that would need recycling.”
Steve Orcutt, DPW assistant commissioner, said CRTs from televisions and computer monitors are the main problem, which are costly to process and have virtually no recycling market.
“(Steuben County) expects to pay a lot for a recycler to take the electronics this year,” Orcutt said. “But counties like Westchester County and others expect to have to pay a lot more. Westchester County estimates it paying $1.2 million for e-waste removal in 2016.”
Steuben residents may recycle their electronics free of charge during normal business hours at the county landfill and three transfer stations in Erwin, Hornell and Wayland, officials said. But some counties, like Chemung County, charge to recycle electronics.
“If we don’t take a TV or anything else the roads will be filled with them,” said Legislator Robert Nichols, R-Tuscarora, who opposes charging a fee. “I know that would happen.”
Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler agreed and said now is a good time to ask Cuomo and the DEC to make municipalities whole from the additional cost of e-waste recycling.
“The DEC and the state have recognized that this is an issue and need to set aside money to help municipalities with this additional cost,” Wheeler said. “It’s a big issue.”
All state residents are currently required to recycle electronic equipment, separated from other household wastes and recyclables, Spagnoletti said. The e-waste, enacted in 2010, first required businesses to recycle electronics in 2011, and residential electronics recycling began in 2015.
Electronics such as personal computers, laptops, televisions, printers, DVD players, cell phones, and video game systems are accepted at the Steuben County landfill and transfer stations.