New law requires New Yorkers to recycle e-waste or face fines

Global Business

As of Jan. 1, it is illegal for consumers and businesses in the U.S. state of New York to throw their used electronic devices into the trash. The new law requires them to recycle all e-waste. The state is the 23rd state to pass an e-waste law since 2006. CCTV America’s Karina Huber reported the story from New York City.

New Yorkers can drop off their old electronics, such as televisions, phones, printers, and computers, at places like the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse, where old devices are either sent off for recycling, or given a face-lift and a shot at a second life.

Those that can be revived are resold at its store, where items sell for roughly 40 percent less than the refurbished market price.

“Ideally, the first thing we do is reuse it,” Cory Mason, Reuse Program Manager of the warehouse said. “If it’s reusable, we run it through a bunch of tests, sanitize the data, and then if it’s not reusable we recycle it.”

Free facilities like the Gowanus E-Waste Warehouse provide a useful service as New Yorkers can now be fined $100 per violation for throwing out their old devices.

Devices that cannot be revived are sent to one of two recyclers that have the highest form of certification.

“It means that the recycler gets audited by an independent agency to really look at the downstream sources where they dispose of their materials so nothing gets illegally shipped into Third World countries,” Christine Datz-Romero, executive director of Lower East Side Ecology Center said.

Asia and Africa are the world’s dumping grounds for e-waste. If not handled properly, the waste can be very toxic to those recycling it and living in its vicinity.

“The most susceptible population in all of this is of course children. They’re developing. They’re very sensitive to air and water contaminants,” Jack Caravanos, director of research at the NGO Pure Earth said. “There’s significant organ damage that occurs especially neurological damage that from lead exposure and mercury exposure.”

E-waste is becoming a bigger problem as people are continuously updating their devices and getting rid of old ones. However, Caravanos said that laws like the one in New York will stem the tide of e-waste exports to developing countries and create incentives for U.S. recyclers to get into the business.

“I do believe that the manufacturing process that would be established here would be following local rules and would be a much cleaner process,” Caravanos said. “I’ve seen battery manufacturing overseas done very poorly but when the U.S. or Europe does it, it’s a much cleaner process.”

Anna Dengler of Great Forest Inc. discusses new NY E-waste rule

CCTV America’s Michelle Makori interviewed Anna Dengler for more information on laws regarding e-waste. Dengler is the director of sustainability for consulting firm Great Forest, Inc.