In September, the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC) held its annual member meeting and pre-conference workshop during the E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, Florida on September 18th. Over 40 ERCC members attended the meeting with additional members listening in online. In the afternoon, ERCC held an open workshop with over 75 attendees entitled “Eco-Fees and CRTs: The Past and Possible Future of State Electronics Recycling Programs.”
During the member meeting, a variety of current and future projects were discussed. One major project that will take shape after the first of the year will be ERCC’s Compliance Calendar website. The vision for this site originally sprung from conversation among member states and affiliate members and is an attempt to house a comprehensive resource on requirements under the state electronics recycling laws for all industry stakeholders. Other major topics discussed included market share data for recycling responsibility, the importance of retailer outreach and engagement, and best practices for tracking and sharing data on state mandated recycling programs. The final topic features presentations by Sarah Murray of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Amanda Cotton of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency on the use of data management software and other best practices. The members also heard an overview from Walter Alcorn of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) on the last data showing that a downward trend continuing of 28% of US households still using or storing at least one Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TV in their home, and 17% of households with at least one CRT monitor.
The workshop on “Eco-Fees and CRTs” featured small group working sessions after two quick panel discussions to set up the major issues. Participants were assigned tables with a balance of stakeholder type represented at each (government, manufacturer, recycler, etc.). Each table was tasked with discussion questions such as: 1) what are the potential benefits and drawbacks of eco-fee approaches for the US? 2) What questions would need to be addressed for using them at the state and federal level? 3) Is this different for a state with or without laws? 4) What are best practices for tracking and overseeing recyclers who manage CRTs and CRT glass? 5) What new ideas might help all stakeholders in the future? 6) How can ERCC help to create best practices for tracking CRT glass? 7) What do we do when there is a problem? Some of the challenges communicated about eco-fees during the group discussions were deciding how the fees would be determined and who would collect them, how a recycler would be chosen and how we could ensure that devices are actually recycled. On the positive side, participants noted that eco-fees might be able to drive good environmental performance, could be a valuable educational tool, might drive down competition, would offer a potentially better auditing process, and might simplify compliance. On the topic of CRTs and CRT glass, most groups agreed that financial assurance and downstream tracking was a concern and required consistency. Some thought it was important that a facility could declare a maximum capacity, and felt that regular inspections to monitor capacity concerns should be built-in. The need for trained auditors and enforcement were also mentioned as keys to a more competent system. All in all, both the annual member meeting and the workshop experienced robust participation and provided multiple take-aways that will help ERCC with direction into 2018. Please contact Jason Linnell if you have any questions.