Consumer Electronics Industry to Triple E-Cycling Rates

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One billion pounds of electronics, if not properly recycled, would fill about 88.9 million cubic feet, equivalent to an entire 71,000-seat NFL stadium. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Praveenp

Best Buy, Sony and Toshiba are among the consumer electronics industry leaders that today pledged to increase electronics recycling to 1 billion pounds annually by 2016, more than triple the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010.

The multi-pronged initiative rejects state-by-state laws in favor of a national solution that combines consumer education with a push for a larger, more accountable recycling infrastructure. In practice, that means raising public awareness about the nation’s 5,000 current collection sites, developing new channels for e-recycling and codifying strict standards to properly dispose of e-waste – plus using the industry’s national reach to get there.

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Coordinated by the Consumer Electronics Association, the eCycling Leadership Initiative pulls in players from across the field including manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers and NGOs, in collaboration with local and federal government.

“This unique industry-led approach transcends the patchwork of current state recycling regulations with an aggressive set of industry goals and standards,” Walter Alcorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability, said in a statement. “The billion pound challenge is about both the quality and quantity of electronics recycling.”

Meanwhile, President Obama also recognized the need for a more comprehensive solution in November when he established an interagency e-waste task force (comprised of the Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the General Services Administration) charged with developing a national strategy.

As part of the CEA’s program, the industry will bolster its support for recycler third party certification, an emerging area of quality control, to ensure that old electronics don’t end up in dumps overseas. CEA also plans to develop online tools and applications that help consumers identify recycling options.

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