- Arlington, VA-based Consumer Technology Association (CTA) saw that 700 million pounds of consumer electronics (CE) were recycled in 2015 under its eCycling Leadership Initiative (ELI), a collaboration of CE manufacturers, retailers, collectors, and other industry stakeholders. The 2015 figure represents a 6% increase from 2014, and a more than twofold increase from 2010 just before the initiative launched. It also continues a five-year record-breaking streak, as revealed in the Fifth Annual Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative, according to Recycling Today.
- The promising numbers result largely from a push to increase collections, with more than 8,300 recycling locations currently in operation through the US; increased consumer awareness, including PSA campaigns that have reached over 200 million consumers; and a school program on electronics recycling for fourth- to six-graders.
- Among findings of the ELI report:
- Of all commodities, CE products are declining fastest in the categories of waste generation and disposal.
- The industry has spent about $125 million on electronics recycling programs.
- 40.4% of CE products were recovered for recycling in 2013, marking an increase from the 30.6% of the previous year. In 2015 there were about 28 CE products in the average household.
The increased recovery rates are encouraging considering what the e-waste industry is up against. Materials keep getting lighter, as California and Washington State reported a 4% weight reduction in recycled scraps from 2014 to 2015—a pattern that’s challenging states to meet their diversion rates. Coupled with the overall decline in the commodities market, this trend has made it harder to collect enough good scrap. Yet unwanted scrap from dated materials, such as CRT, keeps piling up.
The steadily climbing recovery numbers show a few things; for one, the power in partnerships. ELI brings together professionals from the whole supply chain to government entities and others working to pump infrastructure. And now CTA has joined the Recycling Partnership committed to expanding curbside recycling and also works with Recyclebank in community outreach.
The industry has spent more than any other industry invested in commodities to expand the breadth and reach of recycling programs. This, along with robust educational programs that begin in grade school and community outreach, are helping bring the industry closer to its goal of seeing that recycling e-waste is as easy as buying new products so that people will be encouraged to do the right thing.