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April 22, 2015

Not All Electronics Recyclers are Irresponsible, Illegal or Unsafe

Pam Davenport - Email

Nicholas Rupp - Email

(Salt Lake County)—Recent national and local news stories exposing illicit and unsafe activities that plague the electronic recycling industry have left many people wondering what they should do with their broken or outdated electronics.

The Salt Lake County Health Department (SLCoHD) wants county residents to know that their widely successful 12-year e-scrap program continues to use only BAN (Basel Action Network) certified recyclers, ensuring that all e-waste collected is recycled and disposed of correctly—and never sent overseas.

“For a recycler to operate in Salt Lake County, they must first apply for and receive a processing permit from the health department, and then we inspect the facility every six months,” explains Dan Moore, SLCoHD hazardous waste supervisor. “Salt Lake County is the only county in Utah that has this regulation, and we know it helps keep out the scammers and irresponsible recyclers.”

In addition to requiring recyclers to follow environmentally sound practices, the permit application process requires them to purchase financial assurance equal to the amount of scrap product they will be processing. This bond ensures that communities are not left with site cleanup and remediation costs if a recycler should go out of business.

SLCoHD offers several household hazardous waste (HHW) and electronics collection events throughout the summer [see attached list for dates and locations].

Electronics recycling can be costly, but there is no charge to residents who utilize health department facilities or events because Samsung pays for all SLCoHD electronic waste recycling; last year, that partnership saved Salt Lake County taxpayers over $160,000.

Americans dispose of 47.4 million computers, 27.2 million televisions, and 141 million mobile devices annually, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. Currently, only a quarter of all those devices are collected for recycling.