New York’s e-scrap collections were down about 3 percent in 2014, while Wisconsin saw an 18 percent drop. At the same time, multiple state environment departments have recommended changes to their extended producer responsibility laws for electronics recycling.
Those updates and others emerged from reports on e-scrap programs in four states: New York, Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin.
The Empire State collected 96.7 million pounds of e-scrap in 2014, down nearly 3 percent from the 99.5 million pounds collected in 2013, according to a press release.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation also recently released a report examining the first two years of the implementation (2011 and 2012) of the New York State Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act. According to the report, 122.3 million pounds were collected during those years (2011 was a partial year, with the program in place only April through December).
DEC officials noted the challenges of collecting and recycling CRTs. The department plans to continue discussions with stakeholders about possible changes to the program to improve CRT recycling.
“In addition, DEC continues to evaluate manufacturers’ compliance with the Act and are drafting regulations to clarify and strengthen the provisions of the Act, and will also be providing funds to assist municipalities who have been collecting materials outside of the e-waste collection system created by the law,” according to the press release.
In 2014, Pennsylvania collected 62.4 million pounds of covered electronics. That figure represents a significant boost from 2013, when the program took in 43.5 million pounds of e-scrap.
But in a report released late last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said the state’s extended producer responsibility law has failed to stimulate a dependable statewide infrastructure for electronics recycling.
Of particular concern are CRTs, the document noted.
The five southeast counties of Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia have cancelled their e-scrap collection programs because they couldn’t get a vendor.
“In 2015, no recyclers were willing to contract with the counties given the anticipated volume, especially televisions, in relation to the expected processing charges paid by the manufacturers,” the DEP stated.
Collection volumes continue to decrease in the Evergreen State.
In 2015, the state collected 42.58 million pounds of e-scrap, down 4 percent from the weight collected in 2014, according to the E-Cycle Washington program. The 2014 weight was down 1.8 percent from the year before.
Miles Kuntz of the Washington State Department of Ecology, which oversees the state’s e-scrap recycling program, said it appears the annual collection total peaked in 2013 at 45.18 million pounds.
“Without hard data to back it up I think it is safe to say this peak and decline pattern has occurred for two reasons,” he said. “First, the backlog of old electronics in consumers’ homes and garages has largely been worked through and is now decreasing.
“Second, the significantly lighter flat screen TVs and monitors now showing up in the recycling stream in greater numbers are having an impact on the total weight of electronics collected and recycled.”
Wisconsin collected 30.6 million pounds of electronics for recycling during the sixth year of the program, a period covering July 2014 through June 2015. That volume was down nearly 18 percent from the 37.2 million pounds collected the previous year.
According to a report from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the state recycled nearly 200 million pounds during the first five-and-a-half years of program collections.
While the program has achieved many successes, updates are needed to ensure manufacturers are paying to collect enough e-scrap and they’re collecting it from throughout the state, especially rural areas, the DNR stated.
DNR staff urged lawmakers to approve changes to the program, including updating the way manufacturers’ recycling obligations are calculated. Legislators responded by introducing a bill, Senate Bill 621, which passed out of a Senate committee and is awaiting a possible vote by the full chamber.