Editor’s Note: For free disposal of e-waste while you can, the county’s Hazardous Household Wast Disposal Day is 8-11 a.m. Friday at the Unadilla Town Garage, and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday at the county Meadows Complex off Route 33, Town of Middlefield.
By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – It used to be free.
But by this November, Otsego County will begin charging residents to recycle electronics – e-waste – because of continuing spikes in the cost and decreasing funding from the state to mitigate the cost.
A slew of variables have led to needing to impose recycling fees on e-waste. One is the cost, which before 2017, was “minimal,” according to Tammie Harris, a county planner.
But starting in 2017, costs have risen quickly – from $30,000 in 2017 to a projected $50,000 in 2019.
A second variable is decreasing support from New York State. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had offered a grant that helped municipalities cover some of E-waste’s costs, but it is not offering the grant this year for unknown reasons.
That led to Rep. Keith McCarty, who chairs the Solid Waste and Environmental Concerns committee (SWEC) to propose a $10 per unit for electronics such as computers, TVs, and monitors, and $5 per unit for “smaller electronics.”
While SWEC voted unanimously for McCarty’s proposal in their Aug. 20 meeting, it has not been submitted to the board for a vote yet.
“We still have to look at the issue some more to see what happens,” McCarty said.
Sullivan said the state has been helping municipalities with E-waste recycling less and less while manufacturers, who are required to accept their products and recycle them for free, “have paid less and less.”
E-waste recycling also involves complex logistics mainly because it is hazardous material. Only one recycling site in the county accepts e-waste, the Southern Transfer Station in Oneonta. The Northern Transfer Station in Cooperstown used to accept it, but the station lacked enclosed storage area needed for e-waste as well as the transportation and labor to move it. It stopped accepting e-waste in 2014.
Residents still will pay less for recycling than they would if “the county walked away from paying for electronic recycling” and for-profit businesses took over,” Harris wrote in a Sept. 17 email.
“But the cost to the consumer would most likely increase since they could set the pricing,” Harris wrote in an email.