Recently enforced e-waste disposal fees at the Idyllwild Transfer Station, ($25 per electronic waste item for televisions, computer screens or similarly covered electronic items) are not the only fees local residents desiring to responsibly recycle and dispose of electronic waste will have to pay. Consumers may actually be paying twice to recycle certain items.

As a result of the new Waste Management Inc. fees, Idyllwild residents who recycle covered electronic equipment at the station could be paying up to $40 per item to properly dispose of used equipment.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, California consumers who brought certain covered electronic items, such as TVs and computer screens, were charged from $3 to $15 per item by retailers at point of sale, based on size of screen. The implementing legislation, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, was intended to “reduce hazardous substances sold in California; distribute collected retailer fees to qualified entities [such as Riverside County Waste Management and Waste Management Inc.] to cover the cost of electronic waste collection and recycling; and direct state agency purchases of certain environmentally preferred electronic equipment.” Retailers send collected fees to the California Board of Equalization for distribution to approved waste collectors.

The legislation was drafted to encourage responsible recycling and disposal of specified items by California consumers. According to the Cal Recycle website, www.calrecycle.ca.gov, “The intent of the [point of sale] fee is to reduce or eliminate the costs associated with properly recycling this material when it becomes waste.”

Waste Management Inc., the “approved waste collector” that operates the local transfer station, receives these fees through the Board of Equalization. When spokesperson Eloisa Orozco, area communications manager of Waste Management of Southern California, was contacted about electronic waste fees assessed twice (consumer payment at point of sale and then at transfer station) she said she was unaware of the cited California legislation. She noted Waste Management Inc. obtained approval from the Board of Supervisors in July 2014 to enact these new fees but delayed their implementation until November.

Extra fees WMI charges are permitted by state legislation (see California statutory regulations, Title 14, Natural Resources, Chapter 8.2, Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling, Article 2) if the recovery payment (from the retailer) does not cover full disposal costs and the collector can document the additional costs.

Orozco said the fee on property owners’ yearly tax bills for the transfer station includes handling of “standard municipal solid waste and recycling and does not include services for the handling of electronic wastes. Electronic waste is a specialty item that must be diverted from landfills and regular recycling processors.”

As a result, she said, “The fee of $25 per item is to help cover the costs associated with having this convenient drop-off service available to residents at the transfer station where our personnel handle the devices, which are inherently hard-to-handle items, as we comply with laws and regulations that are applicable from the point of drop off.” That’s the the reason for the new fees.

Orozco’s alternative for residents who don’t want to pay the $25: “Idyllwild residents are welcome to bring their electronic waste at no charge to our Moreno Valley Transfer Station located at 17700 Indian St. … Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.”

Sondra Reynolds, Cal Recycle Public Affairs spokesperson, said the initial legislation’s intent was that “consumers were not supposed to be doubly charged. You’re not supposed to be charged an additional tipping fee; we pay that.”

Send complaints to complaints@calrecycle.ca.gov.

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