Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Enforcement Action Results in Massive Fines

By Kenneth Smith, Esq.

A local recycling company in Wayne County was recently fined $725,000.00 by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (the “DEC”) for the illegal handling of electronic waste (“e-waste”)1.  This whopping fine consisted of $225,000.00 that was to be payable within two years and an additional $500,000.00 fine that was held in abeyance if the company complies with the consent order entered with NYSDEC.

In August of 2016, the NYSDEC executed a search warrant at the Alpco Recycling facility in Macedon, NY2.  Alpco is a local recycling facility known to take recyclable materials such as metals, cardboard, glass, and plastics.  The facility was investigated for suspected non-compliance with New York’s Environmental Conservation Laws involving e-waste. 

Electronic waste, or e-waste, as defined by New York’s Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse law regulates the disposal and handling of items such as computers; computer peripherals; small electronic equipment; small-scale servers; cathode ray tubes; or televisions that have been discarded or are entering the waste collection, recovery, treatment, processing, or recycling system, not including the casing or enclosure in which such item is typically assembled.   

E-waste is known to contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium, which if improperly handled, can leach into the ground and enter the groundwater.

Alpco lacked the appropriate permit to operate as an e-waste recycling facility, but was receiving e-waste such as old televisions and computer monitors, crushing them onsite and salvaging certain components for recycling. 

This case demonstrates the significant, yet unavoidable, risk involved in not obtaining the correct permits or adhering to applicable regulatory program requirements.  For assistance with enforcement actions or with responding to government investigations initiated by NYSDEC or EPA, or dealing with waste disposal requirements in general, please contact Ken Smith, Esq. or Mindy Zoghlin Esq.

1See “Alpco fined $225,000 for improper handling of e-waste,” by WHAM, March 31, 2017, available at   https://13wham.com/news/local/alpco-fined-225000-for-improper-handling-of-e-waste.

2See “Alpco Recycling in hot water with DEC?” by Waynetimes.com, Times of Wayne County, August 20, 2016, available at  https://waynetimes.com/news/alpco-recycling-hot-water-dec/

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