The story of electronics recycling in New York reads more like a book of puzzles. Its strict e-waste law was passed last summer, but it’s full of loopholes. Meanwhile, New Yorkers – who are notoriously accustomed to convenience – are left without the knowledge of free, easy e-cycling options.
Known for its hyper-local urban composting options, the Lower East Side Ecology Center is now tackling the electronics that piling up on sidewalks in four of the five boroughs. It has partnered with Tekserve, New York’s largest independent Apple store and service facility, to launch a public e-cycling program to curb the discarded gadgets that often end up on the streets after the holidays.
But – dearest New Yorker who is always in a rush – you have to get your recyclables together soon. This program ends on January 23. The events are currently in place in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx – rain, shine or snow. [Editor's Note: See a full list of events here.]
“Electronic waste is a very serious environmental issue, both because of toxic materials it contains and because of the lack of options for safe disposal of this equipment,” said Lower East Side Ecology Center executive director Christine Datz-Romero.
“That’s why we make sure that the recyclers we work with guarantee that all of the material we collect is safely recycled in the United States, instead of being exported to the developing world or incinerated stateside.”
Since 2003, the Ecology Center has collected more than 1.6 million pounds of unwanted and broken electronics from thousands of New Yorkers. Any type of working and non-working computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, cables, TVs, VCRs, DVD players, phones, audio/visual equipment, cell phones and PDAs will be accepted from households, small businesses and nonprofits.
The Ecology Center has partnered with Tekserve for e-cycling events since 2007, but 2011′s collection program is the largest in the history of their partnership.
“[...] These events enable us to help new customers, empowering recyclers with the opportunity to play a significant role in this very important initiative where they can really help make a difference,” said Tekserve project manager August Guyot.
According to New York’s new e-waste law, beginning in April 2011, manufacturers of electronic equipment will be required to offer free recycling programs for residents, small businesses and nonprofits, and by Jan. 1, 2015, it will be illegal in New York State to dispose of electronics in the regular trash.