The consumer electronics industry in the US has come together with the aim of achieving a threefold increase in annual recycling. The target is to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, three times that in 2010. One billion pounds of electronics would otherwise fill about 88.9 million cubic feet of landfill, equivalent to an entire 71,000-seat NFL stadium (for UK/Australian readers that’s 80% of Wembley stadium or 70% of Melbourne cricket ground).
The eCycling Leadership Initiative is a collaboration among consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, NGOs and governments coordinated by the industry trade association, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).
To achieve the aim the Initiative is looking to improve consumer awareness of the industry-sponsored collection sites, increase the amount of electronics recycled responsibly, increase the number of collection opportunities available and provide a measure of eCycling efforts. A major component will be consumer education, including new online tools and mobile apps to help make recycling used electronics as easy as buying new devices.
The Initiative is also looking at ways to continue to work with the Obama Administration’s Taskforce on Electronics Stewardship, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and General Services Administration (GSA). The Task Force is developing a national strategy for responsible electronics recycling.
There is no national e-waste legislation in the US – just 25 states have any e-waste regulations - so this industry initiative is a step in the right direction.
The CEA also supports the movement toward third-party recycler certification and encourages more recycling in such facilities, which is to be welcomed. The US is one of the few countries that have not ratified the Basel Convention, the international agreement on trade in hazardous waste, so much e-waste sent for recycling in the US is currently exported to places where the process is more likely to be environmentally unsafe and dangerous for workers.