E-waste law enters new phase in New York

Originally published on December 30, 2014 4:18 pm

You won’t be able to throw out old computers, televisions or video game consoles in the trash anymore in New York state once a new e-waste law is goes into effect Jan. 1.

This is the final phase of the state’s electronic waste recycling law that’s meant to divert electronics that can harbor dangerous metals from getting into the landfill.  

Andrew Radin, with the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Center, says this is meant to keep dangerous metals out of landfills. But he also notes there is a jobs component to all of this.

“When you have these materials, you need to de-manufacture them, so there’s a whole new processing function, that requires people with certain skills to recover and reuse certain materials.”

So what does one do with that old TV they don’t need anymore? Well, it depends on where you live. Radin says in Onondaga County there are a couple of options.

"People can drop off unwanted electronics all year long at Best Buy, up to a 32 inch TV," Radin said. "And also at the Salvation Army.”

Jim Zecca, head of the Solid Waste Department in rural Madison County, says it’s different there.

“We’ll take TVs and monitors right now at the landfill and transfer stations only," Zecca said. "All the rest of the electronics, we have an agreement with ARC and they’re handling that in Oneida at this point.”

Oswego County allows residents to bring electronics to the county transfer stations and recycling drop-off centers.

Residents can find out where to take their e-waste by calling county solid waste departments, and Radin says there is an online resource that will help.

“There’s also a website called greenergadgets.org," Radin explained. "No matter where you live you can go to that and get information on where to recycle your unwanted electronics.”

This e-waste law applies not only to large items, but also computer peripherals; things like printers and computer mice. The idea is that some of these items can be taken apart and repurposed for other things.

Radin says this is all part of a mindset change for consumers who need to think differently about getting rid of old electronic waste, which becomes obsolete more quickly than ever before.

"These things are getting complicated," Radin said. "It is a challenge to keep people up to speed on how to properly manage all this material.”

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