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New York diverts 520M pounds of e-scrap from landfills

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has recently announced that the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act has driven the collection and recycling of more than 520 million pounds—260,000 tons—of electronic scrap from 2011 to 2016.

The announcement was highlighted in DEC’s second Electronic Waste Recycling Report, which documents e-scrap recycling from 2013 to 2015 and outlines the strengths and challenges of the state’s e-scrap recycling program.

“Over the first six years of the program, New York state has successfully diverted hundreds of millions of pounds of e-waste destined for landfills and combustion facilities to e-waste recyclers for reuse and recycling, helping conserve valuable natural resources,” Commissioner Seggos says. “The e-waste report will help DEC improve New York’s strong e-waste recycling program, and the documented progress of this comprehensive product stewardship program is yet another example of Gov. Cuomo’s commitment to protecting our environment.”

The electronics recycling report for 2013-2015 builds on data in the first report and includes information on overall collection results, collection methods, recycling and reuse rates, stakeholder participation, fees and surcharges, as well as DEC’s compliance and enforcement efforts. The report also notes how the recycling act has presented opportunities for business development, as a number of businesses have been launched or expanded as a result of the recycling and reuse of e-scrap.

From 2013 through 2015, electronic equipment manufacturers, consumers and the state of New York’s collection and recycling network successfully diverted nearly 300 million pounds of e-scrap from the waste stream, which equates to a statewide collection rate averaging more than 5 pounds per capita, according to the report.

DEC says it continues its efforts to address challenges associated with e-scrap collection and recycling, particularly cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors, by working with municipalities, industry representatives, recyclers and others to improve CRT collection and recycling. In addition, while striving for overall stakeholder compliance, DEC says it is working to improve manufacturers’ e-scrap acceptance programs and continue public education and outreach, as well as enforcement, to ensure manufacturers are in compliance with the act’s requirements.

To help municipalities implement electronics recycling over the short term, New York has made $3 million in grant funding from the state’s Environmental Protection Fund available to help municipalities across the state address the unintended costs associated with the collection and recycling of eligible electronics. DEC is distributing nearly $1.2 million in grant funding to municipalities from the first two rounds of grant applications. Applications for the third and final round of available grant money were due to DEC by Jan. 31, 2018, for expenses incurred between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2017. Information regarding grants for municipal e-scrap assistance can be found on the DEC website.

DEC says it also is developing draft regulations to clarify and strengthen provisions of the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act and will release draft regulations in early 2018. Information about the proposed e-scrap regulations will be available on DEC’s website and published in the Environmental Notice Bulletin.

Sen. Tom O’Mara, chairman of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, says, “Actions to better address the challenge of electronic waste are among the most important actions we’ve ever taken in New York government for the benefit of local economies, environments and taxpayers.”