Electronics can’t go to landfills: NJ going after manufacturers as waste piles up
An increasing amount of electronics waste is starting to pile up at some municipal recycling facilities across New Jersey.
Guy Watson, chief of the Bureau of Recycling and Hazardous Waste Management at the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the Electronic Waste Management Act passed five years ago requires the manufacturers of televisions, computers and other products to reclaim and recycle them at the end of their life-cycle, but that hasn’t always been happening.
He pointed out the recycling of older televisions has especially become an issue at some municipal recycling centers because “market forces changed significantly in 2013, where those older type TVs went from a positive value in the recycling marketplace to a negative value.”
He explained “that has caused some disruptions in terms of who would service that and who’s paying the price even though it’s supposed to be ... the manufacturers.”
Watson said some manufacturers have reshuffled who they’re working with to make sure their older electronics are picked up and properly recycled, and this has caused scheduling and other problems at certain recycling centers.
Electronic devices covered by New Jersey’s recycling law include televisions, computer monitors, desk top computers, laptops, and any derivation of computer or screen.
Watson pointed out “this law does not cover microwaves and DVD players even though at many of the municipal locations they will accept that material as well.”
He said more than 90 percent of manufacturers are complying with the law and recycling their old components, but the DEP is taking enforcement action against the manufacturers not fulfilling their responsibilities.
When asked which companies are not cooperating, he declined to name them because the matter is currently in litigation.
Watson added if anyone notices recycling material piling up at a municipal facility, they should call the DEP.
“We will contact the manufacturers that are responsible, we will contact them and let them know they have to get this straightened out,” he said.
Another problem the DEP is facing is some Garden State residents are not taking their e-waste to a recycling center.
“You don’t want to put it at the curb because it will not be picked up as a waste material. It’s prohibited from being put into a garbage truck,” said Watson.
“There are components within some of these electronics that you do not want to go into a landfill or to an incinerator, so if you put it at the curb it’s going to sit there.”
Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.
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