Nov. 12—Sunnking Electronics Recycling has provided plenty of events for people for Western New Yorkers to safely ditch their unused electronics. But that could soon change.
The company has not committed to holding collection events in 2023 due to new statewide recycling regulations going into effect in the new year. They will soon require that residents are not charged for bringing in electronics to recycle.
Sunnking's Director of Marketing Robert Burns said starting on Jan. 1, manufacturers will be paying the recycling facilities directly to take back the materials, so that there would be no cost to people bringing in materials.
In Niagara County, Sunnking has worked with community partners to have recycling sites in the towns of Niagara, Wheatfield, Cambria, Porter, Pendleton, Wilson, and Lockport. It has held collection events at the Fashion Outlets mall, where it collected around 214,000 pounds of recycled electronics. The company itself processes 75,000 pounds of electronics per day and 25 million pounds per year.
"For us, it's anything with a plug or circuit board," Burns said, with Sunnking accepting items like television sets, treadmills, phones, laptops, security cameras, and video game controllers, through not large appliances like refrigerators. From there, Sunnking will see if the items can be reused or break them down so the raw material can go to refineries for making new devices. They also make sure that people's data is safe by wiping and destroying hard drives.
These collection events have been going on for a decade as a way to get more materials. Over time, they have become a larger event people look forward to, with people bringing month's worth of electronics and Sunnking limiting the amount that can register at 2,000. Burns described them as more a public service than a money maker for the recycler.
"For the longest time, the state had made it a point to push recycling on the residential level, that it should be convenient and free," Burns said. 'We'll still be paid, it's just a restructuring of how the money gets to us," Burns said. "In the end, it's a good thing."
This would also put more responsibility on the manufacturers, with Burns saying they are going to have to think twice about how they make their devices, how they should be more easier to break down and pull resources from.
Due to this change, Sunnking made drop off at all of its sites free starting Nov. 1 so they have a two-month headway to get the word out about the change. With hundreds of drop-off sites already in place across Western New York, it is looking at opening more places.
"We're watching close to see what the reception is and how people are recycling over the next few months," Burns said.