NYC E-waste Recycling Under Fire as AT&T Ramps Up Own Efforts

by | Jul 28, 2009

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cellphonerecyclingAs industry groups file suit against a New York City e-waste recycling program, AT&T is ramping up its own wireless recycling initiatives, showing the divergent attitude that is emerging among sellers of electronic devices.

AT&T estimates it will collect roughly 14 million wireless devices for recycling by the end of 2011, which will keep more than 920 tons of primary materials and more than 13 tons of toxic waste out of landfills.

Here are the highlights of AT&T’s e-waste initiative.

  • Provides recycling drop-off spots via all 2,000-plus retail locations nationwide, and offers free prepaid shipping labels online at
  • Adds two more ways to help make recycling easy for wireless users via free, prepaid mailing envelopes in stores and online (
  • Through August 2009, AT&T is working with the American Camp Association (ACA) to share its recycling mission with over 2 million children, tweens, and teens across the U.S.
  • Promotes wireless recycling efforts at AT&T-sponsored music and movie festivals through 2010.
  • AT&T’s volunteer organization, the AT&T Pioneers, continues community-based recycling drives across the U.S.
  • Continues to offer free donation drive toolkits online, including templates for recycling bins and tips for wiping data from old phones before recycling.

While many electronic device manufacturers participate in nationwide recycling efforts, two technology industry groups are challenging New York City’s electronics recycling law, stating it will cost manufacturers, and small businesses, more than $200 million annually.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) have filed a legal challenge against a new law in New York City, mandating that manufacturers provide free, door-to-door electronics collection to city residents.

The industry groups said the regulation, which is scheduled to go into effect July 31, 2009, will force hundreds of additional trucks onto city streets, increasing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and carbon emissions.

The industry groups said the financial burden of door-to-door collection threatens to force electronics companies out of the New York City marketplace or into bankruptcy.

In addition, the city’s regulations place the entire cost of collecting and recycling old electronics products on manufacturers, including hundreds of U.S. companies whose products are shipped into the city by distributors, said the groups, even if they don’t have a corporate presence in New York City or the infrastructure to provide collection services.

However, businesses received good news in Canada. The Electronics Stewardship Association of British Columbia (ESABC) is revising the Environmental Handling Fees (EHFs) charged on products which were regulated for the launch of the program August 1, 2007. Most charges will be lowered between 20 to 75 percent.

These changes will become effective on August 1, 2009 and are directly related to computer, printer, monitor and TV purchases.

Paid at the point of purchase by both commercial and residential consumers, the EHFs are used by ESABC, a not for profit association, to provide a sustainable industry-led recycling program for end of life electronics for British Columbia.

ESABC said the changes reflect significant decreases of between 20 percent and 75 percent in almost all the EHFs charged on in Phase I products currently accepted by the ESABC program. Only one product category, Display Devices between 30 and 45 inches will see a modest increase in EHF of 6 percent from $30.00 to $31.75. ESABC also added a new EHF of $0.90 on aftermarket sales of keyboards and mice/trackballs.


ESABC has diverted more than 20,000 metric tons of material from British Columbia landfills since the program’s inception, making it one of the most successful recycling programs in North America, according to the nonprofit group.

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