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What is the best way to recycle computer electronics?

Release Date: 5/20/2004
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – Results are now available from the first, multi-state electronics collection and recycling effort to receive widespread support from the major players within the electronics industry and government.

“Because mountains of computer equipment and electronics will become obsolete over the next generation, this pilot is an important step in developing environmentally safe and effective eCycling methods,” said Donald S. Welsh, mid-Atlantic regional administrator.

The mid-Atlantic states (which include Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia) and the EPA regional office in Philadelphia, launched the Region 3 eCycling project in 2001.

The pilot leveraged $1.1 million in funding primarily from state and local government, and resulted in the following accomplishments:

* 58 residential collection events held throughout Region 3;
* nine permanent collection programs started;
* more than 2,700 tons of end-of-life electronics diverted from the municipal waste stream and recycled; and
* more than 26,000 cathode ray tubes (CRTs) collected and recycled.

Although the collection numbers are impressive, the best results of the pilot are that it demonstrated that:

* six states can collaborate effectively to provide regulatory flexibility across a large, multi-jurisdictional area;

      * recycling markets will develop to manage the increasing supply of materials in an environmentally sound manner;
      * permanent collections sites have proven to be the most cost effective way to collect materials;
      * EPA, state governments, electronic manufacturers/retailers, and recyclers can develop partnerships to address challenging environmental issues;
* third party organizations are very important in helping to deploy funds from the private sector; and
      *an effort grounded on shared responsibility, and robust outreach to local government and consumers can work very well.

The eCycling pilot success was built on collaboration between EPA and the mid-Atlantic states and involved counties, cities, and organizations which hosted eCycling events and covered recycling costs.

The Region 3 pilot also benefitted from strong support from the both the EPA Office of Solid Waste and the Climate Change Office within the Office of Air and Radiation.

The complete eCycling report is posted at