E-waste plan calls for four disposal sites

Tuesday November 30, 2010

BRATTLEBORO -- Windham County residents would have four official sites to dispose of electronic waste for free under a draft plan released by the Agency of Natural resources last week. That’s a reduction from seven sites now in the county.

ANR released the plan as it moves ahead with the new state law passed by the Legislature this year that establishes a manufacturer-funded program to eliminate electronic waste from Vermont landfills.

The agency will collect public comments on the draft proposal until December 23, before sending it to the Secretary for final approval.

According to the draft plan, residents in Windham County would be able to get rid of electronic waste for free at sites in Brattleboro, and at sites in the vicinity of Westminster, Londondery and Wilmington.

Residents would also be allowed to use facilities in neighboring counties.

Windham County currently has seven sites which collect electronic waste, for a fee, but Karen Knaebel, a staff member of the Vermont electronic recycling program, said ANR had to consider population and cost effectiveness when establishing the official sites in each county in the state.

She said the company that is chosen to pick up electronic waste could decide to visit alternative sites, though she said only the four sites in Windham County would be included as requirements in the bidding process.

"It was not our intention to discontinue any collection sites," Knaebel said. "We believe that what we propose has the state well covered."

Currently there are two electronic waste collection sites in Brattleboro, as well as sites in Dover, Jamaica, Stratton, Wardsboro and Westminster.

The southwest corner of Windham County is underserved, and should have a drop off site, and current sites in Westminster and Londonderry would be logical locations for the new collection centers, the draft plan reads.

If the proposed plan is adopted, existing sites could continue collecting electronic waste for a fee, Knaebel said.

"Even though we are proposing four sites (in WIndham County) there could be more," she said. "It does not mean existing sites would have to close down. People will be able to do business just as they have been."

Vermont’s new electronic waste law will ban the disposal of all electronic waste starting Jan. 1, 2011, and will establish free disposal sites by July 1, 2011.

There are currently 98 collection facilities in Vermont, and in looking at how the centers are dispersed across the state ANR found that some counties have enough facilities while others are either over, or under-served.

In determining the number of sites, the agency looked at population, area, geography, commuting patterns and road systems.

The agency found that Orange and Franklin needed additional sites, while Rutland Country would have five free sites from among the current number of 22 existing facilities.

Chittenden County, which has 24 percent of the state’s population, should have at least 10 sites, and currently has 16.

Overall, the report recommends 51 free sites under the new electronic waste law.

In the draft report, the state says the number of free electronic waste disposal sites does not need to be as great as the number of glass and paper sites because people dispose of electronic waste much less frequently.

Knaebel said the next major challenge will be to choose a contractor to pick up the electronic waste from the official sites.

She said she plan has largely been moving ahead on schedule and she expects the service to be in place on July 1, 2011, as required by the new law.

The state hopes to collect at least 5.5 pounds per capita for the first program year.

Copies of the draft plan are available at the ANR website at www.anr.state.vt.us.

Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at hwtisman@reformer.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 279.


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