E-Cycle program diverts record electronics from landfill

The E-Cycle Washington program wrapped up its second year in 2010 by collecting 39.5 million pounds of TVs, computers and monitors for free-of-charge recycling. That figure beats the first year collection total of 38.5 million pounds, for a two-year program total of 78 million pounds.

Over the program’s first two years, Washington residents have recycled 5.8 pounds of these electronics per person per year. Televisions comprised 61 percent of the total.

Ted Sturdevant, director of the Department of Ecology, said, “Electronics manufacturers have done a great job of providing Washington’s citizens with a no-charge recycling option for electronics. And the public has responded, proving once again that our state’s recycling ethic is one of the best in the country.”

Funded entirely by the manufacturers of these electronics, the E-Cycle Washington program is a prime example of a cooperative business/government effort that’s making a difference for the environment and for consumers.

The ever-changing consumer demand for better technology generates a huge volume of outdated TVs and computing equipment. For example, more than 64 million flat-screen digital TVs were purchased in the U.S. in the last two years. Many of those replaced the bulkier, old technology tube TVs in American homes. Where did those big black boxes of yesteryear go?

Before the E-Cycle Washington program, many went into our landfills taking with them resources such as metals that could be recycled and toxics such as lead that could eventually pollute our environment and threaten human health.

Computers and monitors have a much shorter life-span than TVs, so consumers are updating and replacing these electronics even faster than their TVs. The combined result is a potential mountain of wasted resources with toxic run-off.

Thanks to a state law passed in 2006, manufacturers have worked with Ecology to establish and run a statewide system to collect and safely recycle those old TVs, computers and monitors.

To find an E-Cycle Washington drop-off location near you, visit http://www.ecyclewashington.org .