Wednesday the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) will announce an industry-wide electronics recycling initiative. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC) has been grading companies’ takeback programs each year with a Recycling Report Card, which has found that most company takeback programs are underperforming, except in states which have strong laws that require companies to make significant efforts on recycling.
ETBC believes the companies and CEA won’t truly tackle our mounting ewaste problem unless they including various initiatives such as a ban on toxic e-waste being sent overseas, report on collection goals and volumes by each company each year, go beyond complying with state laws, and not allowing any hazardous e-waste to be sent to solid waste (non-hazardous waste) landfills or incinerators for disposal or energy recovery.
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that in 2009, the US generated almost 3.2 million tons of e-waste. But only 17.7% of that was collected for recycling. The other 82.3% went to landfills and incinerators, despite the fact that hazardous chemicals in them can leach out of landfills into groundwater and streams, or that burning the plastics in electronics can emit dioxin.
So far, 25 states have passed e-waste recycling laws. To learn more about toxics in electronics and the problem of e-waste visit www.electronicstakeback.com
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn