Over the past decades increasing rapid technological obsolesce has resulted in ever more electronic waste – televisions, computers, audio and stereo equipment – being discarded into the MSW waste stream. Many of these items incorporate heavy metals in their construction: lead, mercury, cadmium, etc. CRT’s, quickly becoming obsolete, are one of the largest sources of lead in the waste stream. In Connecticut, which relies on Waste-to-Energy for MSW disposal, improper disposal of scrap electronics results in potential releases of toxic emissions.
Many components of electronic scrap can be separated and recycled. Computer circuit boards, metal, plastic cases, copper bearing cords, lead from monitor glass, all can be recovered for their intrinsic value. Unfortunately, as electronics recycling emerged in the 1990s, many unscrupulous operators began to ship unprocessed E-Waste to third world countries.. There the low cost of labor and the absence of environmental regulations resulted in a toxic legacy that haunts areas in China and West Africa even today.
In July of 2007 Connecticut became one of a handful of states to pass a Electronics Recycling Law to address residential scrap electronics. Public Act 07 – 189 is a Product Stewardship solution that addresses Covered Electronic Devices (CED) – Computers, Televisions, Monitors, and Printers. These items were also banned from disposal on January 1, 2011. More properly defined as an Extended Producer Responsibility law Connecticut’s legislation outlines the various areas of responsibility.
– Households realize a no cost, convenient recycling options for CEDs. In practice, the companies recycling E-Waste in Connecticut, accept all types of scrap electronics, – computer peripherals. VCRs, phones, stereos, microwaves, etc., – in addition to the CEDs. Early e-waste recycling efforts revolved around 1-day events, but later permanent recycling locations, often at municipal transfer stations, became the norm.
– Firms wishing to accept and process CED’s sourced in Connecticut must fill out an application and become licensed by the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). These processors – Covered Electronic Recyclers (CER) – are vetted against a variety of criteria, including facility descriptions, precise record keeping and export disclosures. CER’s charge back manufacturers as for processing, recycling and transportation. Costs for orphaned or unidentified wastes are allocated based on a specified formula.
– Manufacturers must register with the Connecticut DEEP: retailers may only sell products from entities that are so registered. Manufactures must underwrite the costs associated with the transportation and recycling of their products.
Connecticut was one of a handful of early states to enact Extended Product Stewardship legislation for Electronic Waste. Similar to other states, Connecticut relied on the experiences of others for insight and guidance to take this sometimes arduous path. Our experiences may prove helpful, so the CPSC has provided a link to the testimony associated with our efforts in Connecticut to pass Public Act 07-189