Recently criticized Vermont program boasts top per-capita numbers

Recently criticized Vermont program boasts top per-capita numbers

By Dan Leif, E-Scrap News

February 7, 2014

Vermont e-scrap officials, who recently received a spate of bad press due to contract allegations, now have some good news to report: The state leads the nation in per-capita collection of end-of-life electronics.

An annual report on Vermont's e-scrap program finds the state's per-capita collection total for the 2012-2013 fiscal year was 7.77 pounds. That's up slightly from FY 2011-2012, which was the first year an e-scrap law was in effect in the Green Mountain state. The state's per-capita goal for 2012-2013 was 6 pounds.

In 2011-2012, Vermont recycled 7.70 pounds of electronics per person. According to data from the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse, Oregon was the only other state with an e-scrap law to hit the 7-pound-per-person threshold in their most recent reporting period. Though debate continues in the industry over the best metric to judge e-scrap collection success, per-capita measurements are emerging as a widely compared standard.

Overall volume collected in Vermont during 2012-2013 was just below 4.9 million pounds, a gain of roughly 1 percent from 2011-2012.

Vermont's report points to convenience as the major driver of high per-capita collection, noting the state has established 102 drop-off points available to residents. The law allows individuals to drop off up to seven covered items (computers, TVs, monitors, printers and computer peripherals) at no cost, and the legislation also offers free disposal to school districts, charities and businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

Notably, the entities that helped lay the successful e-scrap infrastructure in Vermont were the same ones that sparked criticism of the state's e-scrap contract procedures in recent months. Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRAA), along with partner Good Point Recycling, held Vermont's e-scrap collection contract for the first two years of the program and played a key role in how the collection system developed.

But last summer the state accepted bids for a contractor for the third year of the program and chose Rutland, Vermont-based Casella Waste Systems. The Good Point/NRRA side, which had rebid and lost, accused Vermont officials of choosing a provider that would end up costing the state extra money and of improperly handling the contract process. Those complaints and an accompanying lawsuit led to a series of critical articles in Vermont news sources as well as in this publication.

The annual report mentions the controversy briefly in its "Program Improvements" section. "There were challenges that will serve as a learning experience for the structure [of] the development of the E-cycles program in upcoming years," the report states. "The distribution of the next Request for Proposal for the implementation of the State Standard Program will provide more prescriptive outlines for the expectations of the program in order to streamline the contracting process."

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Not a big deal

This is not a big deal...their population is so small that if they recyle a dozen old CRT TVs they'll hit the highest per-capita.   We need to get beyond weight as a measure of recyling "success" anyway as devices continue to get smaller and smaller.