E-Waste Recycling Program in Wisconsin Exceeds Targets

by | May 14, 2013

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Since Wisconsin launched a program for recycling electronic waste three years ago, the state has collected more than 100 million pounds of e-waste, exceeding targets by several million pounds, according to state officials.

The program, called E-Cycle Wisconsin, makes it illegal to dispose of many consumer electronics — including TVs, computers, printers and cell phones — in landfills and incinerators, writes the Associated Press. The law makes it mandatory for manufacturers of certain consumer electronics to collect and recycle electronics from Wisconsin households and schools.

The state has more than 400 collection sites. One of the busiest sites, First Choice Computer Recycling in Chippewa Valley, collects between 2 million and 3 million pounds of e-waste each year.

During program year 3 (July 2011 to June 2012), registered collectors took in 39.1 million pounds of electronics, or 6.8 pounds per Wisconsin resident — one of the highest rates in the country, according to [pdf] a report released by E-Cycle Wisconsin in Dec. 2012.

The program is not without its challenges, the report says. Not all Wisconsin residents are aware of the law, and some are still putting electronics in the trash or illegally disposing of them on public and private property. Residents in a few parts of the state still lack good electronics recycling options, or may be unwilling to pay the fees charged by existing collectors. The rising cost of recycling leaded glass from cathode ray tubes and diversion of the more valuable electronic components from the program are posing economic challenges to recyclers and manufacturers.

Still, electronics collection has been exceeding manufacturer targets by several million pounds, putting downward pressure on the payments recyclers receive per pound they process, E-Cycle Wisconsin says.
According to the Consumer Electronics Association, Americans now own approximately 24 electronic products per household. The EPA reports that about half of the states currently have laws on disposal and recycling of electronics and several other states are considering passing similar laws.

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