Aug 08 2008

Oregon Tackles E-Waste

The state of Oregon is addressing the issue of electronic waste on two levels: While environmental officials are putting together a statewide program that’s expected to make the recycling of computers, computer monitors and televisions free and easy for the general public, administrative officials are updating a two-year-old e-waste policy to guide state agencies on how to properly recycle and dispose of a much broader array of e-waste.

Oregon was one of the first states to pass an electronics recycling law. After Jan. 1, 2009, households, small businesses and nonprofits with 10 or fewer employees, or anyone giving seven or fewer devices to participating collection points across the state, can recycle their televisions, computers and monitors free of charge.

Oregon’s program is one of 16 in the nation. Its program follows a product stewardship model in which electronics manufacturers are financially responsible for recycling their products at the end of their useful life.

Under the new system, manufacturers of computers, monitors and televisions offered for sale in Oregon must register with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and pay an annual registration fee to fund DEQ’s administrative costs for the program. Manufacturers may then choose either to fund and manage their own statewide recycling program or pay a recycling fee to participate in a state contractor program established by DEQ.

All recycling programs must be operational by Jan. 1 and provide service in every county, as well as a collection site in every city with a population of 10,000 or more. Collectors and recyclers must adhere to environmental management practices to ensure e-waste is handled in an environmentally sound manner.

Additionally, retailers will be permitted to sell computers, monitors and televisions only from manufacturers that are in compliance with the law. Retailers also will be required to provide customers with information on where or how to recycle their old electronics.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, disposal of televisions, computers and monitors will be prohibited in Oregon. No one in the state, from individual residents to large businesses, will be allowed to dispose of these items in the garbage or landfills.

How the State Handles Agency E-Waste

This fall, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services (DAS) is expected to finalize its updated policy on how state agencies deal with e-waste. Covering a much broader range of items than the state’s new electronics recycling program for the public, the DAS policy applies to such items as cell phones, fax machines, photocopiers, plasma monitors and oscilloscopes.

Under the revised policy, state agencies will transfer ownership of all e-waste through one of two options:

  • They may return e-waste to a manufacturer or vendor with a current state purchase agreement containing buy-back or take-back provisions.
  • If they are within an eight-county area in the Willamette Valley, they must transfer e-waste either directly to Garten Services (a Salem-based Qualified Rehabilitation Facility that refurbishes and recycles e-waste within an eight-county area) or to DAS Surplus. Agencies outside the Willamette area may use Garten or another vendor that meets all disposal criteria for e-waste, or they also may transfer waste to DAS Surplus.

DAS Surplus operates a property distribution center that handles disposal of surplus agency property, including e-waste. DAS Surplus, through processing by Garten Services, ensures that all sensitive, proprietary and licensed data is irretrievably removed from storage-containing devices, such as hard drives, disk drives and BIOS. All hard drives are reformatted to U.S. Defense Security Services standards.