Municipal Guidance for Compliance with
Connecticut’s E-Waste Recycling Law
CGS Section 22a-629-640
State and local governments have had to respond to the challenge of managing the ever-increasing amounts of electronic devices ending up in the solid waste stream. These devices, commonly referred to as "electronic waste" or "e-waste" typically contain toxic substances such as lead, cadmium and mercury and have become a growing portion of the solid waste steam in a time when Connecticut needs to pursue aggressive recycling goals.
The first e-waste collection event in Connecticut was held in Stamford in 1998. Since then, many municipalities have established collection opportunities for their residents by setting up a permanent collection point at their town transfer station or participating in one-day collection events.
Recognizing that recycling e-waste is expensive (about $180-$400 per ton or more), Connecticut began to explore alternative funding options. In 2007, the legislature passed Public Act 07-189, amended in 2008 by Public Act 08-35, requiring manufacturers of televisions, computers and monitors to finance the recycling of their products. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) added printers through regulation. These items are collectively known as covered electronic devices or "CEDs" . This law is based on a "producer responsibility" model where the manufacturer assumes financial responsibility for the end of life management of their product.
Statutory Requirements for Municipalities
Municipalities will have to provide for the collection of household-generated CEDs. Municipalities may meet this requirement by working on their own or in conjunction with a region. Municipalities will be required to educate their residents on the specifics of how to participate in the program. The collection opportunities must give priority to convenience and accessibility. Municipalities may not charge a fee to households bringing in seven or fewer CEDs, as the e-waste law ensures the manufacturer not the municipality shall bear the cost for recycling CEDs.
Regulatory Requirements for Municipalities
Under the regulations, municipalities will need to submit a plan indicating how they will provide convenient and accessible collections for their residents. This plan can be submitted independently or through a regional entity. The DEEP will review each plan to determine if it is feasible and meets the standard of providing "convenient and accessible" collections. Once a plan has been approved, the town will not have to resubmit the plan unless there are substantive changes or the DEEP later determines that the plan did not provide for convenient and accessible collection opportunities.
Establishing Collection Sites
In order to meet its requirement under the law, the DEEP strongly recommends that every town identify one or more collection points for CEDs within its borders, preferably at an existing transfer station, recycling center, or other municipal facility. If a town elects to use other collection methods, it would have to provide compelling reasons why it cannot provide a permanent site, or if the town can provide a permanent site, why the permanent site is not the most convenient and accessible option.
If a municipality intends to collect CEDs at a permitted transfer station, the town may need to amend its permit. The DEEP has developed a streamlined process for adding electronic waste to a solid waste facility permit. The DEEP will give a town the management standards for electronic waste and the town will indicate to the DEEP that they have received the standards and agree to manage the electronic waste in accordance with these standards. The town may also choose to apply for a solid waste transfer station general permit to replace an existing permit. This permit contains standards for managing a number of waste categories including electronic waste. (Municipal Transfer Station General Permit)
Towns may establish collection points that are not at a transfer station or other solid waste facility. These collection points do not require a permit but the town must comply with the conditions of the state’s universal waste rule, RCSA section 22a-449(c) 113 (Universal Waste Rule). Among other requirements, these sites must be staffed during collection hours and secured at all other times.
Towns may identify private collection points that are not under the Town’s control such as retailers. These collection points must also comply with the conditions of the state’s universal waste rule. Such sites may be a valuable component of a Town’s plan to make collections convenient and accessible, but may not be the only collection opportunity unless the Town establishes a contract with such a site to serve in that capacity, and has a contingency plan in place, should the private site discontinue operations, or prove inadequate to demonstrate convenient and accessible opportunities for the municipal residents.
One-Day Collection Events
In exceptional cases, one-day electronic waste collection events might be a more practical option for collecting CEDs. One-day collections should be regional without long drives or long waits for residents to drop off their devices. Towns will be responsible for the cost of recycling non-CEDs such as VCRs, keyboards, DVD players, etc. Business waste, if accepted, would also have to be billed separately and managed in accordance with applicable requirements (Universal Waste Rule). One-day collections are typically more expensive than permanent centers, therefore the towns or the region must demonstrate to the DEEP that one-day collections are necessary for the town to meet its requirement for "convenient and accessible".
Retail Collection Points
Retailers can provide convenient and accessible collections for some residents. In order for a retailer to be the sole or primary component of a municipal or regional collection plan:
- The retailer must be within a convenient driving distance (estimated at 20 minutes driving time in one direction) from all residential points within a municipality.
- The retailer must be willing to accept all CEDs.
- The retailer must be willing and able to separate Connecticut CEDs from out-of-state electronic devices.
- The retailer must be willing and able to separate household CEDs from business electronic devices.
- The retailer must not charge the residents of Connecticut towns for the collection of CEDs.
- The retailer must comply with all of the state’s universal waste rule for the storage and handling of electronic waste.
- The retailer must have a contract in place with a Covered Electronic Recycler certifying they are aware of, and agree to abide by, the requirements for participating in this program.
- The municipality or region must have a contingency plan should the retailer decide to no longer participate in the program.
- The Covered Electronics Recycler which contracts with such an entity must agree to estimate the weight of CEDs recycled through the retailer.
- A retailer may serve as an ancillary component of the collection plan without having to meet the requirements of this program other than applicable universal waste rule provisions.
- The commissioner reserves the right to add or amend any other conditions as deemed necessary.
Recycling Electronic Wastes that are not CEDs
It is likely that residents will bring in other electronic devices in addition to those covered under the law and regulations. By definition, CEDs are limited to televisions, computers, monitors and printers. Devices such as keyboards, mice, VCRs, DVD players, etc. are not covered under the law. The municipality will need to have a plan for managing these devices. The department encourages municipalities to recycle these devices; however, if there were a fee, the municipality would be responsible for paying it. The municipality is not obligated to recycle these residential devices and may instead divert them to the solid waste stream.
Household and Non-household Electronics
The law obligates manufacturers to finance the recycling of CEDs that are generated by households. Manufacturers are not required to pay for the recycling of electronic devices from businesses, town offices, schools, non-profit organizations or for any other non-household generated electronic device. If a town would like to accept devices from non-households, then these devices must be kept separate from household CEDs. All devices must be managed in accordance with permit requirements. If the town would like to accept non-household and household electronics at a non-permitted site, then they must follow the requirements of the universal waste rule (Universal Waste Rule
). The electronics recycler may charge the town to recycle non-household electronics. The town is allowed to recover this cost by charging businesses to recycle their electronic devices through the town.
Although the primary responsibility for verifying the generator of CEDs lies with the recyclers, the towns are the initial screeners. There are certain reasonable steps the town can take to ensure that household and non-household generated CEDs are kept separate.
Make note of the quantity of CEDs brought in. If someone brings in more than seven computers for example, you should ask the generator where they came from or require a certification statement that the CEDs are from a household.
- Does the vehicle have markings that would indicate it came from a business? If there are markings, then the computer is reasonably likely to be business generated.
- Is there an identification sticker or bar code on the device? This is another clue that the computer may be business generated.
Devising and Submitting a Plan
Under the law, each municipality is required to establish a collection program for its residents that is convenient and accessible. A municipality must submit a plan to the DEEP proposing a program for its residents. Towns can submit plans regionally or individually. If a town chooses to submit the plan regionally, it will need to certify that the regional entity is submitting a plan on its behalf. The plan must be submitted using the form below developed by the DEEP.
In putting together a plan, the municipality should, at a minimum, consider the following:
Is there a location in town that has the necessary space, is accessible to the public and truck traffic and is staffed and secured?
- How are e-wastes currently collected? If the town collects televisions at the curbside then changes to a drop-off system, it could cause a problem for some residents.
- How will the town make the residents aware of the new requirements and any new or different collection opportunities?
- Are there advantages of having a regional program?
Choosing a Vendor
The DEEP has posted a list of Covered Electronic Recyclers (CERs)
on our website. The department thoroughly reviewed the CER’s applications including their practices and determined that the selected CERs have met the standards for recyclers established in the department’s regulations. These standards are designed to be protective of human health and the environment and establish accountability for their downstream markets. Municipalities can feel confident in selecting any of the approved CERs. Once a recycler has been chosen by the municipality, they must notify DEEP of thier choice by completing and submitting a brief three-question survey
|List of Covered Electronic Recyclers (CERs)
|E-Waste Survey for Municipalities (to report CER selection to DEEP)
Since these recyclers will be billing the manufacturers for the cost of recycling the televisions, printers, computers, and monitors, collectively known as covered electronic devices, (CEDs), price will not be a deciding factor for the municipalities in selecting a vendor. Here are some other factors you may want to consider:
- What arrangements does the vendor make for non-CEDs?
- Is the vendor willing to provide a storage container?
- Does the vendor have references from other Connecticut towns?
- What would the schedule be for picking up e-waste?
- Does the vendor meet the town requirements for insurance?
- Does the vendor have a history of environmental compliance problems?
- Will the vendor provide a discount for managing municipal assets?
A US Government Accountability Office report
on exporting of electronic waste calls attention to some of the abuses surrounding the export of electronic waste to countries that do not manage it safely and making recommendations to EPA on how to fix the problem. Municipalities may find this information useful when interviewing electronics recyclers to implement their program.
The DEEP will work with the towns or regions to establish collection programs that meet the needs of the residents in a timely manner so that collection programs can begin as soon as possible. If you have any questions about this guidance document, please contact Mark Latham at 860-418-5930. If you have permitting questions, please contact Gabrielle Frigon at (860) 424-3795. For questions about the applicability of universal waste rule or other hazardous waste regulations, contact the Compliance Assistance Hotline at (888) 424-4193.
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Content Last Updated November 2, 2011