By Daniel Meyer
A New York State law regarding disposal of old and obsolete televisions, cellular telephones, computers and other electronics – known as “e-waste” – went into effect Jan. 1 and requires the recycling of virtually all home, business and personal electronics.
The legislation states that all discarded electronics must be recycled as part of the last phase of the state’s Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, which was first introduced in 2010. Anyone who is found guilty of violating the law will be subject to a $100 fine.
For those wondering what the new law prohibits, what is considered e-waste and where can you drop it off, here is some advice and guidelines for future reference.
According to the Cattaraugus County Department of Public Works, the county will continue to encourage local residents to take their electronic waste to their transfer stations, with all of those materials eventually being transported to the Chautauqua County landfill in Ellery.
“For our residents, nothing will really change at this point in time as far as getting their old and outdated electronics to us,” said Linda McAndrew, who serves as the waste management coordinator for the Cattaraugus County DPW office.
“Chautauqua County banned electronics waste disposal at their facility in January 2010, at which time we put in a program to recycle electronic waste. We used to charge $5 per television or computer monitor to help offset our costs associated with the program, but we stopped doing that in April 2011.”
So what is considered e-waste and where can you dispose of it?
In addition to the previously mentioned TVs, cell phones and computers, the list of items that must be recycled includes:
• VCRs, DVRs and DVD players
• Printers and scanners
• Satellite boxes
• Fax machines
• Computer keyboards
• Tablets and e-readers
• MP3 players
• Computer mice
• Hard drives
According to McAndrew, e-waste can be dropped off at seven of the eight waste transfer sites in Cattaraugus County at no charge. The Farwell Compost Facility is the only site that does not accept e-waste.
“We are more than happy to take these items and want everyone to know they will not be charged for dropping them off,” said McAndrew. “This service follows the state laws that are in place to protect our environment.”
In addition, according to the state’s Department of Environment Conservation web site, electronic retailers such as Best Buy, Staples and the Apple Store will accept electronics from their customers so that they can ship them to a recycling facility. Residents are advised to contact each retailer directly for specific instructions on what items are accepted and how they should be packaged for disposal.
“I’ve been researching this topic for the past few weeks and it is important that people read closely what each individual manufacturer will do when it comes to disposing of electronic waste,” said McAndrew. “We bought my mother a new TV this year and I found out on a personal level how difficult it is to dispose of older TVs, especially models that have the tubes inside.”
Anyone who has questions or needs clarification about what is considered e-waste can call the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation at (518) 402-8706, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/66872.html for a full list of the types of electronic materials covered by the new state law and tips on how to manage electronic waste in an environmentally responsible matter.
For information on the hours of operation for the seven Cattaraugus County transfer stations that accept electronic waste, visit www.cattco.org or call (716) 938-9121.