Addabbo legislation to create task force to improve effectiveness of New York's electronic waste recycling and refuse program passes Senate

The NYS Senate recently approved legislation (S.6463) sponsored by NYS Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. to create a task force within the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct an in-depth examination of New York’s existing e-waste program and recommend improvements. The aim of the proposal is to improve the effectiveness of the 2010 Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act law, which took full effect in April of 2011.

“Eight years ago, New York moved forward to keep outdated computers, televisions and other e-waste out of our landfills and to set up a structure for the safe disposal, recycling and reuse of old electronic devices,” said Addabbo, a member of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee. “These electronics are hazardous to our environment, and it is time to reexamine our e-waste law to find out how and where it’s working well, and to find ways to improve it in circumstances where it’s simply not living up to expectations.”

Addabbo noted that the e-waste recycling and reuse law, which is intended to allow consumers to work with municipalities and manufacturers to keep electronic devices out of the waste stream, has been subject to a number of pitfalls. The DEC recently issued its first report on electronic waste collection, reporting that 300 million pounds of electronic waste was recycled between 2013 and 2015, but noting that significant obstacles remain to its overall success.

For example, Addabbo pointed out, there have been instances reported where manufacturers have refused to accept e-waste or have charged high fees for the transaction. In other circumstances, municipal curbside recycling programs either haven’t been put into place or, when implemented, have not been as effective as they could be. The state recently made $3 million in grant funding available to municipalities to help with the costs of e-waste collection and recycling, but the program is considered a short-term answer to an ongoing problem.

“Here in New York City, our e-waste recycling efforts have fallen short, especially for senior and disabled residents who cannot transport their electronic waste to collection sites,” Addabbo said. “Legislation I have co-sponsored in the past with other City colleagues to provide for scheduled curbside pick-up has not been approved, and it’s clear we need to make it more convenient for people to recycle e-waste and protect our environment. Creating a special panel in DEC to specifically look into this issue and come up with viable solutions may help.”

Under Addabbo’s bill, the DEC Commissioner would convene the E-Waste Task Force within the agency to study the amount of electronic waste recycled; rates of compliance with existing recycling and re-use statutes; how municipalities are implementing e-waste programs, and other issues associated with the law. The Task Force would provide a report and recommendations to improve e-waste recycling and reuse efforts to legislative leaders and chairs of the Environmental Conservation Committees in the Assembly and Senate for potential legislative action. Having passed the State Senate, the legislation is now under review by the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

“While we work to examine the existing electronics recycling program, I am continuing to personally make it easier for my constituents to safely dispose of e-waste in our communities,” said Addabbo. “My fall community recycling fair is tentatively set for Sunday, September 23, at Forest Park, and I am certain we will once again collect tons upon tons of e-waste from community residents.”

For further information about the recycling event or e-waste legislation, constituents may contact Addabbo’s office at 718-738-1111.