NORTH CREEK — E-waste has filled a container and left piles accumulating at the Johnsburg Town transfer station. In Horicon, two months worth of the material, old TVs, computers, radios and vacuum cleaners fill up spaces inside and out at the town transfer site. In Warrensburg, e-waste was recently hauled away and isn’t accumulating because, like many towns in Warren County, there’s a temporary halt to collecting the items.
Town officials blame the interruption on the lack of recycling haulers that take the products, some they’d contracted with going out of business in the last few months.
Johnsburg Supervisor Ron Vanselow said that’s the boat the town is in, with a filled container and no one to haul it. Officials there briefly discussed trying to find another hauler, but are waiting as for a county-wide bid process.
Warren County sought and collected bids recently to allow the towns to opt into using one service. The lowest bidder later informed the county they’d be unable to provide the hauling.
Some officials, such as Queensbury Supervisor John Strough, say they’ve been told by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, towns are not allowed to charge residents for disposal of e-waste. It’s tied their hands in getting rid of the items. Other officials say finding a service is difficult because previous rebates from the state offered to haulers had dried up.
DEC officials said neither is true.
“Collectors do not receive a rebate. Manufacturers of electronic products are required to take back a certain amount of e-waste for free each year. Once they reach the set amount they can charge for any additional e-waste they take,” according to DEC. “Municipalities can charge to collect e-waste. They must report to the DEC the amount of e-waste they collected and the amount of fees they collected in their annual report.”
Just because they can charge, doesn’t mean they should or should be burdened with adding that cost to taxpayers, said Strough.
He contacted Maven Technologes LLC, Rochester, one of the largest haulers of e-waste in the state, providing service to Guilderland and private companies, such as Taft Furniture, that hold their own collection events.
Strough said he was informed Maven facilities were filling up. He was awaiting more information from he company earlier this week.
A call to Maven by Sun Community News was not returned.
The towns are not facing the dilemma alone.
“It’s frustrating,” said Assemblyman Dan Stec. “The DEC says this is supposed to be free and easy. The process is neither free nor easy.”
Some manufactures that do accept the e-waste, as directed by law, require original packaging, special forms or labels and for the individual to pay for shipping.
“It shouldn’t be this hard to do the right thing,” said Stec.
The laws he said, “Aren’t making sense, aren’t being enforced and are not working.”
Some haulers were taking the waste for free, removing the precious metals from the equipment as a way of turning a profit. The DEC website which details approved e-waste handlers by county does not have any companies listed in Warren County.
Next, for Stec, is a more formal approach with the DEC, which he said has up until this point been through conversation.
Warren County is conducting a new rounds of bids for removal of e-waste, with hopes to have service return Jan. 1.