The Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) hosted a stakeholder meeting on September 12 for recyclers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and collection sites impacted by the state’s Covered Device Recycling Act, now in its fourth year of implementation. There are currently more than 300 electronics collection sites in Pennsylvania collecting covered devices (computers, monitors, TVs, desktop printers, keyboards and mice) from residents and small businesses. Many collection sites once receiving free service are being asked to pay for full or partial collection and recycling services halfway through the calendar year. This change along with changes in the cathode ray tube (CRT) downstream marketplace prompted the meeting. Larry Holley of the PADEP laid out a list of expectations and interpretations that OEMs and their recycler representatives affected by the CDRA are expected to adhere to in 2015. These expectations included the following:
- Accept covered devices year-round – Collection and recycling of covered devices by OEMs or their representatives should be year-round at collection sites listed in an OEM collection plan submitted to the PADEP, regardless if an OEM has met its annual weight obligation under the law.
- Submit modified OEM plans for pre-approval – Modifications to an OEM’s collection plan (change of collection sites) are to be submitted and approved by the PADEP prior to any implemented changes.
- Prohibit charging of collectors – Recyclers cannot charge collectors if working on behalf of an OEM under the law.
- Restrict collection to OEM-authorized recyclers only – The PADEP encouraged OEMs affected by the CDRA to work with local recyclers and existing collection infrastructures. This sentiment stemmed from competition in the marketplace between OEM-authorized recyclers and local recyclers collecting covered devices, who could potentially sell their material to an OEM to meet their obligation. A representative from the Consumer Electronics Association suggested that collectors ask their recycler for proof of OEM support versus simply contracting with any recycler who states they can do the job.
- Forbid use of CRT glass as alternative daily cover (ADC) – Processed CRT glass from covered devices under the CDRA cannot be used as ADC on landfills. ADC does not meet the definition of recycling in Pennsylvania.
With these new expectations and the OEM collection requirement increasing from 90 percent to 100 percent market share in 2015, it is likely that Pennsylvania will continue to experience growing pains as all stakeholders acclimate to coming changes.
On September 19, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held a stakeholder meeting to review discussions they had with various stakeholder groups about changing Minnesota’s electronics take back law to more of a convenience versus weight-driven law. Minnesota’s Electronics Recycling Act requires OEMs to annually collect and recycle an amount of covered electronic devices equivalent to 80 percent of their annual sales for a program year. The law has been in effect for seven years and each year the state is seeing more covered devices collected for recycling than OEMs are required to pay for and more rural areas not receiving as good of collection coverage as others. Suggested changes would keep the law as is but increase the 80 percent collection rate to 100 percent, or alternatively put no limits on weight collected and require a certain number of collection sites possibly per city, county, or population base and distance. While what the state and stakeholders ultimately want to see is still being hammered out, new legislation to address the stated issues is expected to be introduced in 2015.
On November 11, H.B. 4204, an amendment to Illinois’ Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act was introduced into the Illinois General Assembly veto session by Representative Emily McAsey. The amendment was crafted with the input of a number of Illinois counties who have experienced difficulty maintaining year-round and/or no-cost collection and recycling services from OEMs or their recycler representatives over the past year. The bill did not pass in the veto session but it points out four fixes to the “flaws” in the current law as perceived by collectors and additional legislators across the state which will more than likely be introduced again in a new proposed amendment in 2015. The amendment would have:
- Raised the market share weight obligation for OEMs from 50 percent to 100 percent, or double the amount of material OEMs are required to collect now under the Act.
- Prohibited recyclers from charging units of government for collection and recycling services.
- Changed the fee structure for OEMs that do not meet 100 percent of their weight obligation. (Right now an OEM can meet 70 percent of its weight obligation and not be charged a fee by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IL EPA)).
- Allowed CRT devices to count towards an OEM’s obligation if processed in a way approved by the IL EPA – it is believed this will allow the IL EPA to condone the use of alternative daily cover for CRT-containing devices covered under the Act.
Like Illinois, many New Jersey county and municipal collectors have experienced issues over the past few years with getting full-year and/or no-cost collection and recycling services from OEMs and/or their authorized recyclers under the state’s Electronics Waste Management Act. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) is trying to address these issues through legal means and stakeholder cooperation. The Association of New Jersey Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators, a group representing a number of county recycling and household hazardous waste coordinators, is working to have a bill introduced in 2015 that will change New Jersey’s electronics take back law to more closely resemble the law currently in place in Connecticut. Under the Connecticut take back law, the state authorizes recyclers and the pricing they can charge OEMs for collection and recycling services. All municipalities are required to offer a collection opportunity to their residents and authorized recyclers cannot charge collectors. In New Jersey, OEMs currently choose their recycler and pricing is market driven. New Jersey municipalities are not required to act as collection locations.