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DEC: Innovative e-waste recycling program yields initial success

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Mon, Feb 8th 2016 12:50 pm

More than 318 million pounds of e-waste recycled and diverted from landfills

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos released DEC's initial e-waste recycling report, detailing the implementation success of the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, which saw more than 318 million pounds of e-waste collected from 2011 through 2014. The report provides an evaluation of the initial progress during 2011-12 on implementing the act, outlining the program's strengths and challenges, and providing recommendations for future improvements.

"Over the first several years of implementation, New York state has successfully captured hundreds of millions of pounds of e-waste (while) making electronic equipment manufactures responsible for end-of-life costs for products covered under the act, thereby removing this cost from municipal recycling programs," Seggos said. "The findings in this report will help enhance and improve New York's already strong e-waste programs, and the progress made in this program is yet another example of Gov. Cuomo's commitment to protecting our environment."

The inaugural report for 2011-12 establishes the baseline data collection methods DEC has developed to establish the recycling and reuse rates in the state for covered electronic equipment (CEE). It highlights initial compliance with the program and provides recommendations for changes to enhance implementation. The report also notes the opportunities for business development that have been launched through the recycling or reuse of electronic equipment.

DEC is addressing one of the more recent implementation challenges, which is the collection and recycling of cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors. The department has focused initial efforts on education of manufacturers, and this year DEC will step up enforcement to ensure full compliance with the goals of the act.

DEC will continue discussions with stakeholders, municipalities, industry and recyclers to develop solutions and improvements to the program to address and improve CRT recycling. In addition, DEC continues to evaluate manufactures compliance with the act and is drafting regulations to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the act. It will also provide funds to assist municipalities that have been collecting materials outside of the e-waste collection system created by the law.

The state's Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act proved to deliver both positive environmental and economic results in 2011 and 2012. The total amount of CEE collected by manufacturers for recycling or reuse during the 2011 reporting period (April 1-Dec. 31, 2011) was 44.8 million pounds, which equates to an approximate 2.3 pounds per capita statewide collection rate. During calendar year 2012, the total amount of CEE collected by manufacturers for recycling or reuse increased to 77.5 million pounds, which equates to an approximate 4 pounds per capita statewide collection rate.

The significant increase in e-waste collected for recycling or reuse from state consumers in 2011 and in 2012 was more than in any previous year for which records are available, and that trend has continued in recent years.

Data for 2013-14 will soon be published, and will also show the collection rate of state consumers' e-waste increased steadily since the act became effective in 2011. Initial data shows the state collected 99.5 million pounds in 2013 and 96.7 million in 2014.

As of Jan. 1, 2015 all state consumers are now required to recycle electronic waste, such as computers, computer peripherals, televisions, small-scale servers and small electronic equipment. They are prohibited from disposing of this waste. Under the act, free and convenient recycling programs for all consumers of the state are required to be provided by electronic equipment manufactures.

Additionally, recycling diverts e-waste from landfills and combustion facilities and conserves valuable natural resources.

A copy of the report can be found on DEC's website: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/65583.html.

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