Municipal leaders from New York City to Niagara County told lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday that the state’s six-year-old electronic waste recycling law is putting a costly burden on local governments.
The 2010 “e-waste” law requires manufacturers to manage and fund programs to collect and recycle electronic waste in New York. But local officials said much of the cost and burden is falling on municipalities.
“The law is not working as intended,” said John Strough, supervisor of the Warren County town of Queensbury. He said Queensbury and many other towns are collecting discarded electronics from residents because no other program is readily accessible.
Discarded cathode ray tubes, or CRTs are the main problem. Their lead content makes them costly to process and there’s no market for the recycled components. Recycling companies that used to take electronic waste from municipalities for free are now charging for CRTs.
Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said experts at the time the law was drafted underestimated the volume of CRTs that would need recycling. He said Westchester estimates it will have to pay $1.2 million for e-waste removal in 2016. Delaware County anticipates a cost of up to $90,000. Madison County’s annual expense is about $33,000. Cattaraugus and Niagara each had e-waste program costs of $60,000 for 2015.
The Association of Counties wants the Department of Environmental Conservation to enact regulations to require manufacturers to provide year-round support for collection sites regardless of whether their performance target has been met.