The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced this week that the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act is now law. As of April 1 New York holds the distinction of having the most comprehensive electronic waste, or "e-waste," product stewardship program in the country. The law also establishes a statewide e-waste recycling goal and requires manufacturers to recycle their share of the statewide goal based on market share.
"This is a huge win for the environment and consumers, who will now be able to recycle electronic waste at no cost," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Manufacturers of TVs, computers, printers, copiers and other electronic products are stepping up to help New York meet our ambitious recycling goals and lower costs for local governments."
The law requires manufacturers who sell electronic equipment covered by the law in New York to register with DEC and to establish a convenient program for the collection of electronic waste that would be free of charge to all consumers, schools, governments, businesses with fewer than 50 employees and not-for-profits with fewer than 75 employees. In addition, all registered manufacturers must create a public education program to inform consumers about how to return products covered under the law. Typical consumer electronics that are covered include televisions, computers, printers, keyboards, mouses, DVD/VCR/DVR players, video game consoles and MP3 players.
Manufacturers are required to accept any electronic product they manufacture or an item of another manufacturer's brand if offered to the consumer when purchasing the same type of electronic equipment. For example, if someone is buying a new computer that is a different brand than the one they currently own, the manufacturer must accept the old computer.
"This new program will prevent millions of pounds of electronic waste from entering New York's limited landfills," said Assemblyman Bob Sweeney, chair of the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee. "The rapid evolution of technology has meant these products seemingly become obsolete almost as soon as they are manufactured and because they contain toxic substances like lead, mercury, chromium and cadmium they can damage our food and water supplies."
"As we move into spring cleaning, New Yorkers finally have a safer way to get rid of their old electronics," said Kate Sinding, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. "This cutting-edge recycling program requires manufacturers to provide all consumers in the state with well-publicized and convenient options for getting rid of used electronics. As we start clearing our old appliances out of our apartments, closets and garages, we will look to manufacturers to make sure all New Yorkers know how to safely give them back for recycling."
Under the new law, consumers include any individual, state agency, public corporation, public school, school district, private or parochial school, board of cooperative educational services or governmental entity located in New York state and businesses. Manufacturers may charge a fee for businesses with more than 50 full-time employees, not-for-profit corporations with more than 75 full time employees.
The law also establishes a ban on disposal of e-waste that is phased-in beginning April 1 for manufacturers, retailers, collection sites, and consolidation and recycling facilities. Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, individuals and households will no longer be able to place or dispose of any electronic waste in a landfill or waste-to-energy facility, or place electronic waste for collection that is intended for disposal at such types of facilities.
Key benefits for consumers are:
•The manufacturer is required to provide details of their electronic waste take-back program on their website, including how they will take back their brand of products, locations where electronic waste can be dropped for and recycled for free, or how to ship back equipment to the manufacturer free of cost.
•When purchasing new covered electronic equipment, information on how the equipment can be recycled must be provided in the product manual or separately with the purchase.
•Also, with the new covered electronic equipment purchase, a manufacturer must accept a piece of electronic waste of any manufacturer's brand if offered by the consumer with purchase of covered electronic equipment of the same type by a consumer.
More information including a specific list of which electronic devices are covered by the law, which manufacturers have collection plans in place, and links to their websites, is available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/65583.html on the DEC website.