eCycling for Responsible Electronics Disposal

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) kicked off a national eCycling Leadership Initiative campaign to collect about 89 million cubic feet of electronic waste – enough to fill a 71,000-seat NFL football stadium.  This is the first ever industry-wide program to make consumers and industries more aware of the need to improve our environment, and to draw attention to the need for responsible disposal and recycling of electronic material.

According to CEA figures, 300 million pounds of electronic material was recycled in 2010. The goal of the initiative is to reach one billion pounds of e-waste by the year 2016.

Problem: The flood of electronic waste

Trashed computers, cell phones, televisions and other electronic gadgets flood the landfills as consumers rush to grab the latest technology in fashionable gizmos. A growing number of these products are simply being thrown away – and not in an environmentally-conscious way. As much as 80% of this electronic waste enters the landfills, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This means only 20% of electronic waste is properly recycled.

Americans see glass, paper and plastics as recycling material, but are overlooking electronic products that could have an even greater impact on our environmental imprints.

We all have some kind of e-waste – from the unused cell phones we keep in a drawer because we changed carriers; to the large manufacturers who mine depleting minerals in order to make large profits on the latest fad.

Solution: What can consumers and retailers do to address this issue?

Do not throw your electronics into the trash along with your other waste. Many of these items have mercury or other toxic materials that can enter your groundwater or infrastructure through seepage in the landfill liners, or through the air in the form of gas.

Many retail outlets, such as Best Buy and Office Depot, serve as pick-up spots for discarded consumer goods to be salvaged through repairing, refurbishing and harvesting of metal and other materials to be recycled into other products.

Solution: What can manufacturers do to make sustainable internal changes?

Manufacturers can contact a processing center that will help them set up a returns processing procedure that will meet, and usually exceed, environmental regulations and who can put money back into your bottom line through a restructuring of your returns processing.

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