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Elma’s electronics drop-off advantage drawing to a close

When Elma residents purchase new computers, televisions or other devices, they don’t have to wait for a special electronics drop-off day to dispose of their old ones, as most Erie County residents do.

Instead, they can simply bring their unwanted electronics to the town’s transfer station on Creek Road.

However, that perk will soon end.

Citing a hefty price to continue the practice, Supervisor Dennis M. Powers announced last week that the transfer station will stop accepting electronics as of March 30.

According to Powers, the service at one time generated a little income for the town, but changes in state regulations caused the town to annually spend up to $25,000 to maintain that practice.

In a town where the annual budget is about $8 million, that’s not a small amount.

“In four years, that turns into $100,000,” Powers said.

“We can spend that money in better ways.”

Powers also warned residents that electronic items cannot be left at the curb; sanitation crews won’t pick them up because they aren’t included in the town’s garbage collection contract.

“The garbage is checked by Waste Management at the Depew transfer station,” Powers said. “If they see a computer or television, they’ll let us know about it, and we’ll get fined.”

A few years ago, Elma earned money on recycling electronics through a contract with a Corfu-based company that accepted the items.

“Then the state got involved,” Powers said, “and they monitor that stuff closely.”

A change in state regulations prevented the company from continuing its relationship with the town.

Elma officials found a cost-neutral solution, working with a local company that could collect the electronics. However, new state regulations have ended that relationship, too.

“That lasted about a year,” Powers said, “but the cost to us in 2015 was almost $25,000.”

Now, the town must pay by the pound to have the electronics hauled away.

Although the town won’t accept electronics for recycling after March 30, town officials pointed out that there are several collection events held throughout the county every year.

Councilman Michael P. Nolan pointed out that residents already pay for the collections at events sponsored by state and county officials.

“As a county and state taxpayer, you’re already paying for these drop-offs,” Nolan said, adding that part of the problem is that some of the electronics are dropped off by people who live outside the town, forcing Elma to foot a larger bill.