Consumer Electronics Industry Sets Itself Billion Pound eCycling Challenge
ARLINGTON, Virginia, April 13, 2011 (ENS) – One billion pounds of obsolete electronics, if not properly recycled, would fill enough 50-foot tractor trailers to stretch 475 miles or completely fill a 71,000-seat football stadium.
Today consumer electronics industry leaders kicked off the first nationwide electronics recycling initiative, with the goal of recycling a billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016.
At an event in Washington, DC this morning, the eCycling Leadership Initiative was formed with participation from the Consumer Electronics Association, Best Buy Co. Inc., Panasonic Corporation of North America, Sony Electronics Inc. and Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., among others.
“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, which stages the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
At the eCycling launch event stands a Plexiglas box of 387 pounds of electronics for recycling – the amount Best Buy collects every minute at its stores. (Photo courtesy Consumer Electronics Assn.)
“Our members have been on the forefront of eCycling advancements, and today a forward-thinking industry is challenging itself to go even further,” Shapiro said.
The eCycling Leadership Initiative is a collaboration among consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, nongovernmental organizations and governments at all levels, coordinated by CEA.
To hit the one billion pound recycling target it will take greater consumer awareness of the more than 5,000 collection sites currently sponsored by industry and an increase in the number of collection opportunities.
A major component of the initiative will be consumer education using new online tools and mobile apps to help make recycling used electronics as easy as buying new ones.
The eCycling Leadership Initiative will bolster the number of collection sites by working with state and local governments, and charitifor additional sites.
The industry also wants to increase the amount of electronics recycled responsibly and to provide transparent metrics on eCycling efforts.
They are starting with a tough metric as a goal – one billion pounds is more than a threefold increase over the 2010 level of electronics recycling. To keep track, CEA will issue an annual national progress report that will measure eCycling growth, using 2010 as a baseline.
“The billion pound challenge is about both the quality and quantity of electronics recycling,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability.
“But we won’t stop at a billion pounds,” he said. “The eCycling Leadership Initiative is an ongoing, permanent initiative that will follow the best practices and commitment of industry, including practices that prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations.”
CEA supports the movement toward third-party recycler certification and encourages more recycling in such facilities. Specific to the eCycling Leadership Initiative, the consumer electronics industry supports the voluntary implementation of these recycler certification systems so that the billion pounds is recycled in third-party certified facilities.
“This unique industry-led approach transcends the patchwork of current state recycling regulations with an aggressive set of industry goals and standards,” Alcorn said. “Through the eCycling Leadership Initiative, the consumer electronics industry is moving toward a national solution and away from the costly and confusing patchwork of state regulations.”
“Panasonic is pleased to support this ground-breaking industry-wide initiative,” said Joe Taylor, chairman and chief executive of Panasonic Corporation of North America. “We have worked collaboratively for many years with other manufacturers and with our retailer partners and we look to this initiative to even further expand recycling opportunities available to Panasonic’s customers – and to those who wish to recycle any other brand, too.”
In 2007, Panasonic joined with Sharp and Toshiba to create the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, the first manufacturer-managed electronics product stewardship organization in the United States. MRM now works with more than 30 manufacturers to manage collection programs in 15 states and Taylor says it will support the eCycling Leadership Initiative.
The Initiative is also looking at ways to continue to work with the Obama administration’s Taskforce on Electronics Stewardship, co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the EPA, and the General Services Administration. The Taskforce is developing a national strategy for responsible electronics recycling.