Look around your house. How many electronic devices do you see winking and blinking back at you? According to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the average American household owns 24 electronic devices, a number that would have been extremely high just a decade or two ago. While all of these devices have revolutionized our lives, they’ve also created several million tons of e-waste that no one was quite prepared for.
A recent assessment of the industry shows that recycling rates for these hard-to-dispose items are on the rise. The CEA reported that the consumer electronics (CE) industry dramatically increased its recycling in 2011. According to the First Annual Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative, corporate participants of the eCycling Leadership Initiative facilitated the responsible recycling of 460 million pounds of consumer electronics, a 53 percent increase from the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010.
The eCycling Leadership Initiative, also known as the Billion Pound Challenge, was created in conjunction with consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, non-governmental organizations and national governments. Its purpose was to catalyze awareness of e-waste recycling challenges and respond to criticisms that the industry contributes to the problem through planned obsolescence.
Many feel that consumer electronics manufacturers should play a greater role in collecting and recycling its spent wares responsibly, as is required in other countries. According to the CEA, the initiative is already off to a promising start: the number of recycling drop-off locations for consumers increased nationwide to nearly 7,500 from just over 5,000 a year ago, and by the end of 2011, 96 percent of the recycling done by participants was conducted in third-party certified recycling facilities.
Perhaps most importantly, the CEA says it will continue to push for a national e-waste recycling solution that will eliminate the costly and confusing patchwork of state regulations.