Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

October 13, 2013

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Municipalities dealing with electronic recycling of items containing CRTs

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — It could’ve been classified as a good news and bad news moment.

Councilman Paul W. Siejak told his fellow Lockport Town Board members last month that the town’s electronic recycling program was continuing to grow. In July town residents had recycled 2,126 pounds of electronics, netting Lockport a total of $182.84 in revenue. The Town of Lockport receives 8.6 cents per pound of recycled electronics from its contracted recycler, Regional Computer Recycling & Recovery.

For the year, Lockport has recycled a total of 29,140 pounds for a total of $2,418.52. That was up considerably, as at about this time last year, residents had recycled about 16,000 pounds of electronics, Siejak said.

Then Siejak shared that Lockport will not receive electronic recycling credit for electronics with cathode ray tubes, which are used in the most common and sometimes older types of TVs and computers. That would affect the recycling totals, Siejak said, adding that those items make up a big chunk of the electronic recyclables residents drop off.

”That’s all that’s out there,” he said, referring to the televisions and computers piled out in front of the electronic recycling shed behind Town Hall on Dysinger Road.

At a meeting last week, the Town Board found out Regional would have to start charging Lockport 25 cents per pound to take those items. As a result, Supervisor Marc R. Smith said the town will go to a new electronic recycler instead of the Victor-based company.

”It doesn’t make any sense for us to continue with them,” Smith said.

Smith said the plan at the Oct. 23 meeting is to have Town Board members consider a deal with Sunn King, a Buffalo-based recycler who won’t charge the town to take electronics with CRTs.

Municipalities are starting to see decisions like this with their electronic recycling. State law says home and property owners cannot leave electronics out on the curb for garbage and recycling pick up, so many cities and towns offer locations for residents to drop off those items instead. The items are then collected by a electronic recycling company.

State law requires the original equipment manufacturer, the ones who made the televisions and computers, to take back those with CRTs and reimburse the recycling company. But that’s just a limited amount and once the manufacturer hits their quota they don’t have to pay the recycler. 

And items with CRTs are a huge cost for most recycling companies to recycle. The tubes feature health and environmental concerns with CRTs, as the glass usually contains lead. The costly part is removing the lead.

Municipalities around the state and county are dealing with how to recycle items with CRTs. It is a nationwide issue, but part of the problem is the state law, said Dawn M. Timm, Niagara County’s environmental coordinator. 

“The trouble is in the policy,” she said. “(Manufacturers) not going above or beyond the quota.”

Items with CRTs have dropped considerably in popularity with the rise of newer-type of televisions, such as plasma and LCD and the rise of tablet computers. Problem is, those same items with CRTs make up anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of electronics that are recycled.

So, that decision isn’t going away any time soon. Timm said if she had to advise a community on what to do, it would be to find an electronic recycling firm that will take the items for free and sign a long-term contract. 

“My fear is eventually everyone will start charging a fee,” Timm said.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.