Electronics Recycling – Can Industry Regulate Itself?
An industry-wide initiative was launched by the Consumer Electronics Association, with support from manufacturers such as Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, and Samsung, in an effort to increase electronics waste recycling to one billion pounds a year by 2016, tripling the amount recycled in 2010. The eCycling Leadership Initiative will focus on consumer education as well as boosting the number of collection sites.
Specifically, the initiative seeks to improve consumer awareness of the more than 5,000 collection sites currently sponsored by industry; increase the amount of electronics recycled responsibly; increase the number of collection opportunities available; and provide metrics on eCycling efforts –they will be accountable for issuing an annual progress report that will measure eCycling growth, using 2010 as a baseline.
“The launch of the eCycling Leadership Initiative is a watershed moment in the history of electronics recycling in the United States,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®. “Our members have been on the forefront of eCycling advancements, and today a forward-thinking industry is challenging itself to go even further.”
However, the effort is not without its detractors. Barbara Kyle, executive director of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, called the announcement “seriously underpowered” and, in a blog post, said “CEA gave almost no other information about the program or how they are going to meet their goal.” She also pointed out the initiative doesn’t guarantee that electronics won’t be exported to developing countries. The Electronics TakeBack Coalition is an organization dedicated to promoting green design and responsible recycling in the electronics industry.
Kyle also stated that she felt “CEA’s strategy with this announcement is to stop the States from passing laws on e-waste recycling.” New York recently passed the Electronic Equipment Recycling and Reuse Act, which requires manufacturers to collect electronic waste, create a public education program to inform consumers about how to return products, and accept all brands of electronics for recycling. The new law also bans the disposal of e-waste by manufacturers, retailers, collection sites, and recycling facilities.