New York State Law Update Could Hamper Large-Scale Electronic Recycling Events

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The updated law prohibits charging participants to recycle their used electronics.

BUFFALO, NY — Regional electronics recycler Sunnking says a large-scale electronics recycling event, scheduled for this weekend in West Seneca, could be the last of these types of events it is hosting.

The company says this is due to a change in New York state law, which will go into effect in January.

“It’s something that a lot of people are still trying to figure out,” Sunnking chief marketing officer Robert Burns said of a clarification of the state equipment recycling and reuse law.

Adopted 12 years ago, it required manufacturers to provide free and convenient recycling of electronic waste to consumers.

But since then, the DEC has found that while manufacturers weren’t charging consumers directly, in some cases the recyclers the manufacturer used were charging municipalities and collection sites to hold large-scale recycling events. These municipalities and collection sites, in turn, would charge consumers to cover their costs to recyclers.

“It could be five or ten bucks or something like that,” Burns said, regarding convenience fees that could be imposed by those hosting the events.

However, in DEC’s eyes, the result is that recycling e-waste is not free, as expected.

“What this (change in the law) does is no one has to pay to recycle their home electronics,” Burns said.

However, if Sunnking cannot cover its costs associated with hosting large-scale recycling events, which often thousands of people turn up, and no city or town can cover their costs to host them, Sunnking says such events as the one scheduled for West Seneca this weekend (for which 2,000 have registered) may be over.

“These events were always something that we weren’t necessarily making money from, but more of a public service,” Burns said.

Sometimes the events have been used to help raise money for charities.

Instead, Sunnking says it will increase the number of drop sites it currently has.

“We currently have about 100 sites in the Buffalo area,” Burns said. “These are partnerships with Goodwill and other companies, where there are drop-off sites where they just take things and hold them for us to pick up.”

Increasing the number of drop-off sites would also make large-scale recycling events less practical.

“As we open up hundreds of free drop-off points near you where you can drop things off at your convenience, will people want to wait six or seven months for the next big drop-off event which typically hosts 2,000 people We’re not so sure,” Burns said.

Burns also said that while popular drop-off events may not cease to exist entirely, they may be reduced from several to perhaps just one per year.

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