New York State has passed regulations that officials say will improve opportunities for recycling and e-waste collection across the state, possibly at the expense of manufacturers.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) released the final rule in February, which clarifies and helps implement the 12-year-old Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) law of the state. The NYSDEC took note of the regulations in a March 31 press release.
The regulation, which will take effect on January 1, 2023, covers a number of facets of state law on the recycling and reuse of electronic equipment. The law covers computers, computer peripherals and small electronic equipment.
State regulators say electronics manufacturers are not absorbing all of the costs of the collection and recycling program, as required by law. Therefore, the costs of managing e-waste are passed on to recyclers, municipalities and consumers.
Among the provisions, the new rules “strengthen requirements for manufacturers to be held liable for all costs associated with implementing their acceptance programs,” according to a summary document.
“The settlement clarifies and strengthens the requirements for providing a free and convenient opt-in program to consumers, as originally intended by law, which may result in increased costs for manufacturers,” according to the abstract. “Manufacturers and collectives will be required to improve their acceptance programs in all of the following areas: mail-in, convenience, public education and awareness.”
Specifically, where mail-in return programs are unsuitable for consumers or have weight or size restrictions, manufacturers will be required to offer an additional method of acceptance, such as pickup, a permanent collection site, or collection events, in accordance with the regulatory impact summary. .
Collectors and processors also affected
The regulations also affect other stakeholders, including e-waste collectors and processors. For example, the regulations expand security requirements to prevent vandalism or theft of devices at collection sites, and they require additional training for collection site personnel on how to handle potentially hazardous materials.
In addition, treatment facilities will be required to carry financial insurance to pay for the cleanup of their facilities in the event of corporate default and abandonment of a site, in accordance with the rules. Costs for this operation are expected to vary widely depending on plant size, throughput, type of treatment, etc.
“Facilities that maintain third-party certification may already have a closure plan in place and would incur no additional cost,” according to an estimate of the financial impact. “Facilities without third-party certification will need to develop a closure plan, the costs of which will vary depending on the extent of the facility’s operations.”
The NYSDEC held a public comment period last year on the proposed regulations. Commentators included a number of OEMs, industry associations, municipalities and electronics recycling companies, including ERI, Sunnking and EWASTE+.