SPSA exploring regional e-waste recycling program

Published 7:26 pm Thursday, July 28, 2022

The Southeastern Public Service Authority is weighing whether to establish a regional electronic recycling program as a way of keeping such items out of landfills.

At its Wednesday meeting, SPSA Environmental Manager Mike Kelly presented possible options for its board of directors to consider, while noting that Hampton Roads localities handle this kind of waste differently.

Norfolk collects its electronic waste, or e-waste, Kelly said, and when it gets enough, it issues an invitation for bid to have a third-party company collect it from the city. Virginia Beach’s landfill allows residents to drop off unwanted electronics for free, while in Portsmouth and Chesapeake, they rely on Goodwill and special electronic recycling collection events, Kelly said, at no cost to residents. Many, he said, are reluctant to part with electronic equipment, especially if information has been stored on them because they are worried about a third-party accessing that information.

Newsletter

Email newsletter signup

Suffolk holds periodic recycling drives that allow residents to recycle electronics and other items, the last one being in March.

However, with much of it ultimately ending up in the regional landfill, Kelly presented two models for the board to consider:

  • One in which a vendor provides boxes of pallets to put electronic waste into and then charge a pick-up fee of between $250 and $750, and
  • Another, similar option in which a company also provides pallets but does not charge a pick-up fee when it comes to collect.

Some vendors will pay for certain items and charge for others, and depending on what items are collected, SPSA could end up paying the vendor, or the vendor could be paying SPSA.

In considering the possibility of providing this service, Kelly said it would look for residents to drop off their e-waste at an off-site special event location, at a SPSA household hazardous waste recycling special event at one of its transfer stations in Chesapeake, Norfolk or Franklin, or at its full-time household hazardous waste facility at the regional landfill in the city.

If the event is outside a SPSA facility, Kelly said it would bring the trailer back with e-waste, sort it and put it in boxes for the vendor to pick up. The vendor, he said, would pick up the e-waste when it fills up 12 boxes, though that number depends on the vendor.

The vendor would then provide SPSA with a written certification that the collected e-waste had been recycled.

“The companies that we’ve talked to are legitimate companies that recycle electronics,” Kelly said, “not Bob’s collection service that comes in and picks it up and takes it somewhere else and dumps it. These are legitimate companies (and) there’s an investment that they have to make to put them into boxes. They have to have a plan. We can include that in the procurement.”

Existing staff can be used for the program, Kelly said, but it would be at the overtime pay rate, and special events would be scheduled by SPSA-member communities, or groups within them. He said there would be other administrative costs to run the program, and it would need to buy trailers to bring the e-waste to and from its facility.

Kelly said it would look to charge $15 for residents regardless of how much e-waste they bring. For businesses, it would be $10 per unit, with a 25-unit minimum. He expects it would collect about 30 tons yearly, resulting in about $45,000 in revenue.

He asked the board to review the proposal for 30 days and then take action at its August meeting.