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"E-Waste" recycling law kicks in April 1

New Yorkers will soon be able to recycle old electronic equipment at the point of purchase.
Bert van Dijk
via Flickr
New Yorkers will soon be able to recycle old electronic equipment at the point of purchase.

Starting April 1, New Yorkers who buy electronic equipment will have the opportunity to recycle old electronic junk for free. Manufacturers will be required to set up e-recycling programs, to take back the products they made.

Manufacturers in New York have had almost a year to prepare for a new law, which aims to reduce the amount of electronic waste that ends up in landfills.

According to the Associated Press, old electronics are becoming “one of the nation’s fastest-growing waste streams:"

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 14.9 pounds of electronic waste per person was awaiting disposal in the United States in 2007, the latest figure available. The agency says the electronics recycling rate nationally is about 13 percent.

According to the EPA, this is a bad thing because…

Electronics are complex devices which are made of a wide variety of material constituents. Some of the constituents, such as lead, nickel, cadmium, and mercury, could pose risks to human health or the environment if mismanaged at their end-of-life.

Just about every piece of consumer electronics is covered by the law, including computers, TV sets, and video games.  The state Department of Environmental Conservation has the full list.

New York is the 23rd state to pass an e-waste law. The electronics industry says it would like to see a national law in place, rather than have to comply with dozens of individual laws. The AP reports that the Information Technology Industry Council and the Consumer Electronic Association even teamed up to jointly decry the law:

They said electronics companies have already recovered and properly managed billions of pounds of electronics through voluntary and market-driven efforts.

In 2015, another provision of the law kicks in: it’ll become illegal for New Yorkers to dispose of e-waste in landfills.

Innovation Trail alumnus Ryan Morden is originally from Seattle. He graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's in journalism, minoring in political science and Scandinavian studies. Morden was Morning Edition producer and reporter at WRVO before moving over to the Innovation Trail project. Before landing at WRVO, Morden covered the Washington State legislature as a correspondent for Northwest News Network (N3), a group of nine NPR affiliates in the northwest.