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Electronic Waste (E-Waste)
Recycling Electronic Waste
Computers, televisions and other electronic equipment (i.e. electronic waste or e-waste) are one of the fastest growing portions of Rhode Island's solid waste stream. As new electronic equipment becomes more efficient and more readily available, a greater number of these devices, especially computers and TVs, will find their way from households and businesses into basements and eventually into the waste stream.
Computers and televisions are only two components of the consumer electronics waste stream that also includes VCRs, radios, cell phones, printers, GPS units and other portable appliances just to name a few. Proper disposal of these types of devices is a key component of sound waste management policies and preventing the release of hazardous components. Computer monitors and televisions can contain leaded glass. Other chemicals such as mercury, cadmium, nickel, zinc, and silver can be found in circuit boards. Because of the presence of these materials, it is important that all individuals be aware of how these items are discarded.
Rhode Island's E-Waste & Disposal Ban Law
A comprehensive electronic waste recycling program is in effect for households and schools (specifically, public/private elementary & secondary schools) here in Rhode Island. Due to a new law signed in June of 2008, manufacturers of electronic products have individual financial responsibility to take back and recycle their products at the end of the product's useful life from both households and public/private elementary & secondary schools. This law will help the State of Rhode Island better manage an increasing portion of its solid waste stream. The law includes a ban on disposal of certain types of electronic waste at the Central Landfill effective 1/31/09 - see R.I.G.L. Section § 23-24.10-5.
Which electronic products are included in the disposal ban and are covered under RI's E-Waste Law? Called "covered electronic products" in the law, they include: computers (CPUs), computer monitors (CRT and flat panel), combination units (CPUs with monitors), laptops (with a screen greater then 9 inches diagonally), televisions (including CRT, LCD and plasma with a screen greater then 9 inches diagonally), and similar video display devices with a screen greater then 9 inches diagonally which contains a circuit board. The law does not cover printers and other computer peripherals (e.g. cables, mouse or keyboards) and numerous exemptions are included in the law (e.g. for computers/TVs/video display devices in cars and incorporated into large pieces of equipment, including home appliances).
Under the new law, manufacturers must either run their own take-back program or participate in a state run take-back program run by the RI Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC). Manufacturers must pay an annual $5,000 registration fee to RI DEM no later than 1/1/09, and an additional recycling fee to RIRRC.
It is important to note that RIRRC, as it has done for years, will continue to collect a wide variety of electronic waste from households. Electronic waste outside of the scope of "covered electronic products" as defined in RI's new E-Waste Law will be handled & recycled by RIRRC in a different manner and manufacturers of these discarded products will not be subject to the same financial & legal requirements as contained in RI's E-Waste Law. (For example, RIRRC will continue to collect & recycle keyboards even though keyboards are not covered by RI's new E-Waste Law, but the manufacturers of keyboards will not be subject to the same financial & legal requirements as manufacturers of products which are covered by RI's new E-Waste Law.)
Electronics retailers are prohibited from offering "covered electronic products" for sale in Rhode Island from manufacturers not in compliance with RI's E-Waste Law. RI DEM shall maintain a list on it's website for retailers to consult (after January 1, 2009) when determining which manufacturers are in/out of compliance. All manufacturers are considered to be in compliance until RI DEM publishes its first list. Retailers have the responsibility of providing to consumers at the time of sale information from RI DEM's website about where and how consumers can recycle old electronics products in Rhode Island.
Manufacturers should complete this annual registration form in accordance with the accompanying manufacturer guidance document to ensure the timely processing of registrations. Registration fees must be returned along with the registration form. The registration will not be processed without the applicable fee. This form must be submitted to RIDEM in both hard copy (along with the registration fee) and via email per the instructions contained in the manufacturer registration guidance document. Both an electronic version and a hard copy of this registration form must be returned to RIDEM along with the annual $5,000 registration fee by January 1, 2009. The fee is non-refundable.
Manufacturers are strongly encouraged to sign-up for RIDEM’s E-Waste Listserv – please see below.
Options for Reuse
If you as an individual or a business have a computer or TV that is still working but no longer needed, it may be able to be donated to a school, non-profit organization or an organization that distributes working, used equipment to various groups. Reusing old equipment keeps it out of the waste stream for the time being and allows individuals and groups to obtain equipment that they otherwise could not afford.
Here is a list of resources you can access to explore reuse options for your old, but working, electronics:
US EPA Plug Into eCycling Reuse/Donation Information
National Cristina Foundation
Recycling E-Waste from Businesses
Electronic waste from the business/commercial sector is regulated under current federal and state hazardous waste laws and must be managed as either a hazardous waste or a universal waste. Generators of used electronic waste must manage these wastes accordingly (see fact sheet on RI Universal Waste Rule). Rhode Island's E-Waste law requiring manufacturers to finance the transportation and recycling of covered electronic products does not cover businesses. Businesses must make their own arrangements for the proper management of these items. As of February 1, 2009, the disposal of covered electronics products (e.g. TV's, CPUs, computer monitors, laptops and similar electronic devices) is banned at the Central Landfill as owned and operated by the RI Resource Recovery Corporation.
RI Electronic Waste Listserv
This listserv is a new online tool RI DEM is introducing as a way to increase communication with individuals, manufacturers, businesses and organizations about Rhode Island's E-Waste Law. Information about RI's state e-waste program, meeting announcements, regulatory changes, and other alerts will be sent via this listserv and all those who choose to participate. Manufacturers, retailers and other entities involved with the collection and recycling of e-waste in RI are strongly encouraged to join.
This listserv is set up as a one-way communication tool and subscribers will not be able to reply or use this tool to contact other subscribers with replies or posts.
You can subscribe to this listserv by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the following command in the subject line and body of the message: subscribe RhodeIslandElectronicWaste. You will receive an automated response with additional information about the listserv.
If you have any questions concerning the new law, please contact Elizabeth Stone via email at email@example.com or at 401-222-4700 x2422.
If you need to contact the RI Resource Recovery Corporation about elements of Rhode Island's E-Waste Law which are to be administered by the Corporation, please contact Joe Rotella at JoeR@rirrc.org or call 401-942-1430.
The information provided on this website is not a substitute for the requirements of any relevant RI statutes addressing electronic waste. If you are a person, company or entity that has a legal obligation to undertake certain activities pursuant to RI's recently adopted law, you should review all applicable laws. It is your responsibility to comply with all applicable laws.
Rhode Island's E-Waste & Disposal Ban Law (R.I.G.L. Chapter 23-24.10)