DEEP: CT Electronic Recycling Law, FAQ's

E-Waste
Frequently Asked Questions

{Keyboard With Question Mark} There has been a concerted effort by states, municipalities, electronics manufacturers and retailers to find economic and convenient ways to safely recycle consumer electronics.  If the explanations on this page do not answer your questions, first please visit our main e-waste recycling web page or contact your local recycling coordinator for more information.  If you still have technical questions concerning e-waste, please contact the DEEP Recycling Program at 860-424-3366 or Mark Latham at 860-418-5930.

Why does Connecticut have an e-waste recycling law?
Do the DEEP approved electronic recyclers ensure data security?
Why don't we want to export our e-waste overseas for recycling?
How is DEEP ensuring that our e-waste is recycled properly?

Why does Connecticut have an  e-waste recycling law?

Electronics are being thrown away at increasing rates, and they contain materials that are toxic if improperly disposed, and valuable if recycled.  This value can create recycling jobs and reduce pollution.  There is a cost to properly recycle electronics, and municipalities have traditionally incurred this cost.  The e-waste law requires electronics manufacturers to pay for the cost of recycling, relieving municipalities of the cost burden, protecting the environment and conserving resources.

 

Where can I recycle my e-waste?
Residents have several options for recycling their e-waste.  First, check to see if your town has an e-waste drop-off location.  Eventually, they all will, but in the meantime, visit the consumer electronics section of our "What Do I Do With...?" web page for links to donation and reuse possibilities, and one-day collections.  Staple’s stores offer recycling of computers and peripherals and Best Buy stores will recycle old televisions. For national computer reuse organizations that distribute computers to schools, non-profits, the needy, unemployed or disabled, visit the National Christina Foundation.

What is the gist of the Connecticut e-waste recycling law?
In July of 2007, the State of Connecticut was one of the first of a growing number of states to adopt a law concerning the recycling of household electronics. Under the e-waste law, residents will have convenient and free opportunities for recycling their computers, monitors, printers, and televisions. It requires manufacturers to finance the transportation and recycling of these electronics, and retailers to provide the consumer with recycling information.  It also requires recyclers of electronic to be approved by the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).  For more information on the e-waste law, please visit our Connecticut E-Waste Recycling Law web page.

What are the "Producer Responsibility" or "Product Stewardship" models for e-waste recycling?
Product stewardship is a principle that directs all participants involved in the life cycle of a product to take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use and end-of-life management of the product. The greater the ability of a party to influence the life cycle impacts of a product, the greater the degree of that party’s responsibility. The stakeholders typically include manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and government officials. 
 
Connecticut's electronics recycling law is an example of producer responsibility or product stewardship which requires manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and municipalities to play a role in the recycling of electronics. 

Connecticut has a Product Stewardship Council which was formed to help municipalities better coordinate product stewardship programs.  The Council advocates for any necessary legislation through their local representatives. Manufacturers working at the national level with groups such as the Product Stewardship Institute, sometimes seek opportunities to establish pilot programs. They favor conducting pilots in states that are organized and have a demonstrated commitment to product stewardship principles.

When will Connecticut's electronics recycling program begin?
DEEP has completed the process of selecting recyclers to participate in the program. Towns can select one from the list of approved Covered Electronics Recyclers (CER's) and begin to recycle e-waste at no cost.

What electronic devices are covered by Connecticut’s e-waste recycling law? 
Televisions, desktop and portable computers, computer monitors, and printers generated by households. Collectively, these are called Covered Electronic Devices or “CEDs”. CEDs include certain tablets, e-readers, or phones with a video display greater than 4 inches.   E-waste from non-residential sources (commercial, governmental, retail, etc.) is regulated under current federal and state hazardous waste and solid waste laws.

How does the program work?
Connecticut residents will be able to recycle their CEDs at no cost by delivering them to convenient and accessible collections designated by their municipality. State approved electronics recyclers will then pick up CEDs generated by households from the various collection points. The recyclers will sort the computers and monitors by manufacturer and submit a bill to the responsible manufacturer for the cost of transporting and recycling those CEDs with the manufacturer's brand name on them. Television manufacturers will pay a percentage of the total cost of recycling televisions equivalent to their market share.  Recyclers will then submit bills to manufacturers for covered costs.

Must municipalities make available a location where residents can drop off CEDs at no cost?

Yes. The law requires municipalities to provide free collection of CEDs for their residents at approved municipal collection sites. See a list of approved CED drop-off locations for Connecticut residents. The collection must be convenient and accessible, and residents must drop-off 7 or fewer CEDs at any one time.  Municipalities may collect municipal transfer station or other facility access fees for collection of CEDs, provided other free locations are available to residents and approved by DEEP.  

Why does the e-waste law include only certain electronics?
When developing recycling programs, it’s best to start with the “low hanging fruit”, or the easiest materials to collect, or the most that is generated.  For example, residential programs collect bottles and cans and newspapers for recycling because they are easy to identify, have strong markets and are generated in most households.  "Covered Electronic Devices" which include televisions, computers, monitors and printers, are the "low hanging fruit" of electronic waste.  As new products are developed that fit within this category (such as game consoles), it is possible they may also fall under this law.

Why does the e-waste law only pertain to residential electronics and not those generated by businesses?
In accordance with the Statewide Solid Waste Management Plan, the DEEP is trying to increase recycling and reduce the amount of materials in the municipal portion of the solid waste stream.  This law was also designed to help remove the financial burden of e-waste recycling from municipalities, which is often costly to taxpayers.  Non-residential/business generators already have outlets for managing their e-waste.  They are also regulated to prevent electronics from ending up in the trash. 

How can I recycle keyboards, cell phones, VCRs and other electronic devices not covered by the law?
At some point the law may be expanded to include other e-waste items, but at this time the recycling of these items is not included. Most recyclers will accept VCRs, DVD players and other devices at a collection. Municipalities that wish to include them for recycling will have to arrange for them separately. Depending on the type of electronic device or its condition, you may find that the item has a reuse value, or there may be other reuse options. Visit the "What Do I Do With...?" web page for an "A to Z" resident's management guide for those not-so-common household items.  The list includes a range of items from hearing aids and light bulbs to batteries and cell phones - and more.

Where can Connecticut residents go for information on how to recycle their e-waste?
See a list of approved CED drop-off locations for Connecticut residents. You may also contact your town. Contact your local recycling coordinator or local Department of Public Works.

Is there a disposal ban on e-waste?
Yes.  According to the CT e-waste law, as of January 1, 2011, covered electronic devices will be banned from disposal at any Connecticut solid waste facility - they must be recycled.

What do I need to know about data security?
With identity theft a growing problem, you may have some reservations about donating or recycling your computer. While legitimate computer recyclers take measures to secure and erase the data on the computers they resell or recycle, you may take greater comfort in erasing the data before you drop it off. You may think that simply deleting a file means that file is gone. But in fact the file can easily be recovered.  In order to erase a drive so that no data can be recovered, you need to rewrite over the file a number of times. There are free software downloads such as Cybercide , Eraser, DeleteonClick, or KillDisk, that will permanently erase the data on your hard drive by overwriting. You can also purchase more advanced software for enhanced data security.  Under the CT e-waste law, approved electronics recyclers must secure hard drives until such point they are physically destroyed for recycling such as by shredding or smelting.  The Federal Electronics Challenge has more end-of-life management resources on their website.

What is the responsibility of the municipalities?
The municipalities will need to submit a plan indicating how they plan to provide for the collection of CEDs from their residents. The most common way will be to provide an area at the local transfer station or recycling center.  The DEEP maintains a list of these residential electronics drop-off locations on their website.  More information

What are the requirements of the manufacturers?
Manufacturers of CEDs must register with the state and pay an annual registration fee to cover the state’s administrative costs. When registering, they will have to indicate which brands they are responsible for and provide contact information. Manufacturers will be required to label their CEDs. Manufacturers will have to directly pay approved recyclers for the costs of transporting and recycling their CEDs.  More information

What about computers, monitors and printers that have no label or for which the manufacturer has gone out of business?
Such devices are referred to in the law as "orphan" products. Existing manufacturers of computers, monitors and printers will have to pay an "orphan share" to cover the cost of devices for which there is no associated manufacturer. This cost is determined by the market share of the current manufacturers. Television manufacturers pay for recycling of all televisions based on market share.

Why does DEEP require approval of electronics recyclers?
The DEEP requires approval of recyclers to ensure that only those companies that meet stringent standards for handling and processing electronics, and that are protective of human health and the environment, are allowed to bill manufacturers for the costs of recycling electronics.  More information

Do the DEEP approved electronics recyclers ensure data security?
Yes.  Under the state recycling program, approved recyclers are required to establish data security practices. They must secure hard drives until such point they are physically destroyed for recycling such as by shredding or smelting. If they intend to reuse or resell the computer, they must erase the hard drive to a Department of Defense standard. If you wish to recycle your computer but are concerned about data security, either erase the data yourself or ask the recycler about their procedures for erasing.

Why don't we want to export our e-waste overseas for recycling?
The DEEP does not prohibit the exporting of electronic waste. Rather, DEEP has established strict standards for exporting e-waste.  There have been many well documented cases of unscrupulous recyclers sending e-waste to developing countries where they use unsophisticated practices for reclaiming materials.  These practices result in toxic exposure to impoverished workers and damage to their local environment. View the CBS 60 Minutes story "The Electronic Wasteland" for a graphic depiction of this issue. The DEEP is establishing strict standards to ensure the safe handling of e-waste overseas in accordance with federal laws.

How is DEEP ensuring that our e-waste is recycled properly?
The DEEP has established standards for the Certified Electronic Recyclers (CER) wishing to participate in our program and reviews their practices closely before authorizing them to be a CER.  DEEP standards include protecting human health and the environment.

Does Connecticut's e-waste recycling law preclude CERs and partners of CERs or manufacturers from offering subsidies, credits, or provide benefits to municipalities?

No. The law does not regulate contractual agreements involving CEDs or non-CEDs between municipalities, CERs and partners of CERs or manufacturers. However, the law does include provisions for keeping reimbursement prices competitive and the law is not intended to be a revenue generator for municipalities. DEEP will continue to scrutinize the unit prices submitted in applications to become a CER to ensure competitive market pricing. If unit prices are too high, the applicant risks denial of its application. 

What are "universal wastes" under the Universal Waste Rule?
DEEP has a Universal Waste Rule fact sheet designed to answer general questions and provide basic information on management of universal wastes, including used electronics, in Connecticut.

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Content Last Updated May 22, 2013