Electronic Recycling Up via eCycling Leadership Initiative

Over 4.6 million tons of e-waste ended up in U.S. landfills in 2000 according to the EPA. On average, an American household has 25 different electronic products, most of which will someday wind up needing to be recycled. The problem with electronic waste is that the toxic chemicals, like mercury, in the electronics can leach into the land or be released into the atmosphere. Thankfully, electronic recycling is increasing. In fact, last year 460 million pounds of electronics were recycled, a 53 percent increase over the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010, according to the first annual report of the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) eCycling Leadership Initiative.

The CEA launched the eCycling Leadership Initiative on April 13, 2011 with a dozen electronics companies with the goal of recycling one billion pounds electronics a year by 2016. One billion pounds of electronics would fill about 88.9 million cubic feet, equivalent to a 71,000 seat NFL stadium. The amount of drop-off locations increased nationwide to almost 7,500 last year from just over 5,000 in 2010, and 96 percent of the recycling done by the Initiative participants, by the end of last year, was conducted in third-party certified recycling facilities

The Initiative wants to go beyond the billion pounds by 2016 goal. As Walter Acorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability, says, “The eCycling Leadership initiative is an ongoing, permanent initiative that will follow the best practices and commitment of industry, including practices that prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations.” Alcorn adds, “We want to make recycling electronics just as easy as purchasing electronics.”

The Initiative holds participants to a higher standard and seeks national regulations

Some electronic waste is exported to developing countries, as Greenpeace points out. The problem with dumping electronic waste in developing countries is that they are not likely to have hazardous waste sites. The Initiative prohibits participating electronic manufacturers and retailers from using “recyclers and downstream processors who irresponsibly dispose of electronics, whether here or abroad,” the CEA’s website states.

Part of the reason so much of the electronic waste wound up in either U.S. or overseas landfills is lack of regulations, and differing state regulations. One of the goals of the initiative is to “push for a national solution to eCycling that will eliminate the costly and confusing patchwork of state regulations,” as Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, says.

Photo: Wikipedia user, AvWijk

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

3 responses

  1. That’s great! It’s hard to recycle electronics because of their complexity, and I for one, admit that I dumped one or tvs at the local dumpsite since its just so frustrating trying to recycle them. Recently though, I decided to sell them to junk shops which chop them up and recycle the parts themselves. I indirectly recycle and I earn a bit of money on the side, but I wish I could directly recycle the stuff I own when they kick the bucket. Cheers guys, great deal.

    Juan Miguel RuizGreenJoyment.com

  2. Consumer electronics are becoming something that almost everyone uses mostly all day. People use personal computers for private use at home, at work, as well as an institution. During the use of World-wide-web all causing a variety of plans for software that people often use, desktops are becoming more up-to-date in order to run faster and support innovative programs. 

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