Finding ways to capture the residential e-scrap recycling market

Most of the electronics purchased in the U.S. end up in private homes. However, once these devices are ready for recycling, the majority of electronics are recycled by American businesses, governments or institutions – not the private citizens who make up most of the new electronics market.

Lawmakers, electronics recyclers and electronics manufacturers are exploring ways to increase recycling of electronics. Extended producer responsibility laws place a requirement on manufactures to keep their products out of landfills, and such systems also create a funding model to help electronics recyclers maintain profitability. But it only goes so far – door-to-door collection of electronics for recycling isn’t financially feasible, and companies still have to compete against the perception (POST LINK) that it’s too hard or too inconvenient to recycle electronics.

Having EPR legislation in place helps increase the amount of electronics collected and recycled, Zachary Hussion, Marketing and Programs manager for Sunnking Electronics Recycling, said. Sunnking, in Brockport, N.Y., was the first R2 certified electronics recycler in New York State.

Since New York’s EPR laws kicked in April 2011, “We’ve seen tremendous growth over past two years, much of that from the residential sector,” he said.

The company has doubled its volume, from 7.2 million pounds in 2012 to 14.7 million pounds in 2012.

They did this in a couple of different ways, all of it aimed at making electronics recycling as easy as possible for households. They’ve created a network of 130 free drop-off locations in New York, Pennsylvania and are now branching into Ohio. They’ve created charitable programs, where electronics recycling drives are held, and proceeds support local charities. One-day collection events are also held in partnership with local governments and non-profits in an effort to raise awareness.

Some municipalities are beginning to offer curbside service for electronics recycling, like Waste Management’s ‘call-ahead’ program in the Seattle area: http://www.wmnorthwest.com/kirkland/guidelines/electronics.htm

With all of these efforts, the first piece of the puzzle to solve is convincing residents that recycling electronics isn’t as difficult as they believe.

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