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Getting rid of electronic waste for free

By Fritz Mayer
April 20, 2011

Most people probably don’t think of Sullivan County as being on the cutting edge of much but, in the area of electronic waste, it has been. Way back in 2006, before almost any other county in the state, Sullivan County banned the dumping of electronic waste, such as televisions and computers, into the county landfill.

Since that time, the county has been charging residents $12 per unit to drop off televisions and computers at the transfer stations, which helped defray the cost of about $20,000 per year to get rid of the stuff. The electronic waste was collected by Advanced Recovery in Port Jervis, which recycles and refurbishes electronics. But that fee will soon be coming to an end.

That’s possible because on April 1, New York State joined the list of 22 other states that require manufacturers, such as Dell, Sony and Panasonic, to be responsible for recovering nearly as many electronic products as they produce. The immediate impact has been a patchwork quilt of disposal systems as the companies move to comply with the law.

The Best Buy stores in New York, for instance, will accept any brand of television or computer regardless of where it was purchased or what brand it is. Unfortunately, there are no
Best Buy stores in Sullivan County.

Target stores, according to their advertising, will accept “iPhones, iPods, video games and cell phones for instant credit in over 850 stores nationwide.” Again, however, there are no Targets in Sullivan County.

There is, however, a Staples store in Monticello, which also has a recycling program. However, the store only accepts Dell products for free; consumers are charged a fee to drop off other brands.

There are other options available, such as a company called We Recycle. Consumers can go to the website, http://www.werecycle.com, click the New York button and fill out a form. If there are enough interested people, the company will arrange for an electronic pick-up event in a given area.

Of course, the easiest solution for many people would be if they could simply drop off the old stuff with their garbageat the transfer station. At the Sullivan County government center on April 14, recycling director Bill Cutler told lawmakers about the new law and said, because of it, Advanced Recovery will now accept electronic waste from the county for free. In response, legislators said they would drop the fee charged to residents, and that should happen by April 21.