WOODBINE, N.J. (CBS) – More than 1 million pounds of old televisions and computers sitting in the parking lot of a Goodwill Store is a far-fetched, but technically possible, scenario under New Jersey’s electronic waste program.
That’s how much e-waste Cape May County received this year at a $120,000 deficit.
If they were to stop taking televisions like Camden and Gloucester Counties did this year, the Goodwill in Upper Township is the only collection site on the state’s list.
In 2011, New Jersey banned putting televisions and other large electronics in the trash.
There is no curbside pick-up because e-waste can’t go in landfills.
Instead, the state created a program where companies that manufacture large electronics must pay for their recycling.
“The Electronic Waste Management Act was really to ensure the producers of the electronic devices assumed the responsibility for the end of life,” explains Linda Crumbock, the recycling coordinator for the Cape May County Municipal Utilities Authority.
She says the intent was that residents would have a free and convenient way to dispose of electronic devices while keeping lead and other toxins out of the environment.
The problem, according to several county agencies that accepted the e-waste, is that over time recycling companies stopped taking all the televisions because it wasn’t as profitable and electronic manufacturers stopped covering all the costs.
“The certified recycler went away and we were left holding the bag,” says John Conturo, the CMCMUA solid waste program manager.
As a result, the MUA, which is set up to hold about 10 tons of e-waste, has a back log six times that amount.
Their commissioners don’t want to stop accepting televisions, but the problem is about to get worse.
“You have Super Bowl, you have Christmas coming up, you have these dinosaurs coming out of people’s houses,” said Crumbock, leaning on a 5-foot-tall big-screen tube TV set.
Last January, Gov. Chris Christie pocket-vetoed a bill to overhaul the electronic recycling program and ensure companies pay their part.
In November, lawmakers passed it again, but he’s yet to sign.
“It’s a very obvious need,” says Crumbock.