E-Waste

Ideally, we should recycle everything. Household waste streams are mostly recycled, But old electronics are the worst: think about that drawer of circa 1990s cell phones, box of 3.5” floppy diskettes containing precious data, or pre IP office phone systems that can still power up but are worthless without a dial tone. Unfortunately, this old electronic equipment is usually just thrown in the dump, becoming what we now call “E-waste.” Efforts are in place to prevent old solar panels from also becoming E-waste. Theoretically, the glass, aluminum, silicon and copper in the panels are extremely recyclable. But because of the 25-year durability of solar panels, there are few efficient ways to recycle, or even re-use, old solar panels.

Each year in we add hundreds of thousands of computers, monitors, copiers, fax machines, printers, televisions, and other electronic items become “obsolete” in the eyes of business. Rapid advances in technology and an expanding demand for new features accelerate the generation of “old” electronic equipment (“e-waste”). The result is a growing challenge for businesses, residents, and local governments as they search for ways to reuse, recycle, or properly dispose of this equipment.

To meet this challenge, California enacted the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003, which established the Covered Electronic Waste (CEW) Recycling Program to offset the cost of compliantly handling certain unwanted electronic devices. The Act and the CEW program have fostered a robust collection and processing infrastructure in the state, resulting in over two point three billion pounds of unwanted TVs and monitors recovered and recycled. However, the electronic waste stream is becoming more complex and is presenting challenges to the recycling industry and policymakers alike. For this reason, CalRecycle embarked on a long-term initiative to explore the future possibilities of electronic waste management in California. The culmination of the Future of Electronic Waste Management in California project is a report with a set of recommendations that CalRecycle adopted at its 2018 May public meeting.

Many components of electronic equipment–including metals, plastic, and glass–can be recycled, while others may present environmental hazards if not managed correctly. This site provides information and resources on how to properly manage your electronic products.

There are a few new companies that are addressing the growing need to re-use or recycle E-waste. My guest on this week’s show is Hopyard Recycling,  They been in the industrial, electronic and medical equipment industry for over the years, and is now working to recycle or — better yet, find a home for working but old electronics equipment. To learn more about how companies like Hopyard recycling are helping companies and local municipalities reduce and even zero-out their E-waste streams through repurposing of electronic equipment, Contact them.