Bloomberg BusinessWeek: “The Complex Business of Recycling E-Waste.”

From BloombergBusinessWeek’s CEO Tech Guide to Sustainable Business Practices comes this very informative article on, “The Complex Business of Recycling E-Waste.”

Here are four important excerpts:

Americans get rid of 47.4 million computers, 27.2 million televisions, and 141 million mobile devices annually, according to the latest figures from the Environmental Protection Agency. Only a quarter of all those devices are collected for recycling.


Many states have passed laws that dictate how to dispose of electronics. Most prohibit dumping them in landfills and require that they be recycled. California’s laws, for example, are among the most stringent. Anyone buying a monitor in the state pays a recycling fee that funds e-waste disposal.


Choosing a recycler isn’t as easy as it may seem. There are many options, such as free electronics collection sites, haulers that send trucks to pick up computers, and manufacturer take-back programs. But their environmental rigor varies. Horror stories of U.S. electronics shipped to developing nations and improperly stripped of valuable metals are common.


One way to find a responsible recycler is to check whether it is certified. The EPA endorses two standards programs, e-Stewards and R2, both of which require regular independent audits of participating recyclers to ensure they follow good practices. But there is some debate about the definition of good practices. E-Stewards prohibits recyclers from exporting electronics for processing, for example, while R2 allows it as long those facilities meet certain standards. “You can have a poor recycler in the U.S. just as easily as a really good recycler in China,” says Corey Dehmey, assistant to the executive director at R2 Solutions, the nonprofit that oversees the R2 standard.

Read the full article here: