- Niagara County, NY is grappling with issues stemming from hard-to-recycle electronics such as televisions and other consumer appliances. The county is collecting too many electronics, with municipalities stuck working with recyclers that simply do not want the low-value e-waste.
- According to Dawn Timm, Niagara County’s environmental science coordinator, the problem is a vicious cycle that begins with New York’s Electronic Recycling and Reuse Act. The law requires manufacturers of the equipment to take back a percentage of electronics sold across the state. And once the companies “hit their quota, they stop paying” the scrappers, according to Timm. In turn, the recyclers stop collecting e-waste.
- Municipalities are becoming overloaded with electronics -- especially TVs. Towns have been appealing to the community to store electronics until a viable solution can be implemented, but city staff members frequently find e-waste dumped at city buildings around town.
Timm said that she expects the county-wide e-waste problem to get worse before it gets better. She suggests that the electronics collected should peak, and then diminish, within a three to five year timeframe. Timm also notes that 80% of the waste will most likely be cathode-ray tubes (CRT), which are costly to process and virtually worthless.
The county is trying to strike solution to the mounting problem before it gets completely out of hand. Timm is currently working with the chairman of Niagara County’s public works committee to create a plan. One possibility includes implementing a collection fee and contracting a recycler to carry out the task.
Municipalities aren’t the only ones having problems with mountains of used electronics -- in fact, a full 20% of recyclers experience issues with CRT processing. Creative Recycling Systems (CRS) announced it will file for bankruptcy and close at least ten locations due, in part, to the headaches of eliminating its 30 million pound CRT stockpile.