Old TVs and Computers Impacting Local Property Tax Bills

Old TVs and Computers Impacting Local Property Tax Bills
Old and unwanted television sets and other electronic waste are costing local taxpayers millions of dollars a year to process, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), a municipal association working to encourage state policies that place those costs squarely on the shoulders of the electronics manufacturers who profit when consumers buy new technology devices.
Despite the 2010 NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act and a $3 million e-waste grant program enacted as part of the 2016-17 State Budget, local governments are still carrying the larger share of the electronic waste being recycled across the state.
NYSAC and the New York State Association for Solid Waste Management (NYSASWM) have conducted a small sample survey to better understand current e-waste needs.  The sample survey of 50 municipalities found that:
  • Respondents process 9,224 tons of e-waste collected annually.
  • Respondents collectively spend over $3,000,000 in direct out-of-pocket expenses annually. This amount is equal to the entire 2016/2017 appropriation for e-waste grants.  These expenses are eligible for 50% reimbursement under the e-waste grant program, and still face high costs to responsibly manage e-waste.
  • Most local governments pay between $0.10/lb and $0.30/lb to recycle e-waste.  The Town of Babylon had the highest reported fee of $0.40/lb and Tioga County had the second highest fee of $0.35/lb.
"Collectively, we made real gains this year related to e-waste funding, but our property taxpayers are still subsidizing it, and we need the state to require manufacturers to increase the amount of e-waste they take back annually," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
According to NYSASWM, because manufacturers only reach their minimum requirements for recycling e-waste, thousands of tons of e-waste, much of it hazardous Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), remain in our waste stream.  That's the waste that is being managed by local governments, and funded by property taxpayers.
"The NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act was not implemented as it was intended, and so it has never reached its full potential.  The point of the law was to remove counties and local governments from the financial burden of managing e-waste, but that has not happened," said William Rabbia, President of NYSASWM.
While e-waste grants are a step in the right direction and will benefit some local governments, the funding is limited in scope and does not cover all costs counties and local governments face to manage e-waste.  Reimbursement under this program is limited to direct costs paid to recyclers and does not include any indirect costs such as county employees to handle e-waste at their collection sites, labor for sorting, palletizing, wrapping, or loading e-waste in to trailers. These expenses are not reimbursable through the grant program, but represent a huge expense.  There is also no guarantee that additional funding will be available next year. 
NYSAC and NYSASWM are working together to encourage DEC to implement regulations that clarify the existing law, ensure that manufacturers increase the amount of e-waste they take back annually, and that the public be better educated on how to properly recycle unwanted e-waste. We are also advocating for additional funding for the e-waste grant program in the 2017/2018 state budget and that eligibility criteria be expanded to include indirect costs.