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As businesses and individuals upgrade existing computer systems and incorporate new technologies, more computers and other electronics are finding their way into the waste stream. By promoting waste prevention, reuse, and recycling, EPA hopes to deter people from sending electronic products to landfills.
Although electronic waste is less than 10% of the current solid waste stream, it is growing 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream. In 1998, of the 20 million computers taken out of service, only 2.3 million, which is slightly more than 10%, were recycled.1 Between 2000 and 2007, as many as 500 million personal computers will become obsolete.
- The National Safety Council published, "Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling Baseline Report: Recycling of Selected Electronic Products in the United States," a report that documents the results of the first large-scale survey and analysis of end-of-life electronic product recycling and reuse in the United States. Learn more about this report and how to to order a copy for a fee.
Electronic waste refers to electronic products that have finished their useful life. Consumer electronic products include televisions and monitors, computers, computer peripherals, audio and stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, fax and copying machines, cellular phones, wireless devices, and video game consoles.
Plug-In To eCycling
As part of its Resource Conservation Challenge, EPA launched the Plug-In To eCycling campaign to spread the word about opportunities to reuse and recycle old computers, TVs, and cell phones. How to become a Plug-In partner, informational brochures, reuse and recycling opportunities, and a list of current campaign partners is provided.
Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is an easy-to-use, on-line tool helping institutional purchasers select and compare computer desktops, laptops and monitors based on their environmental attributes.
Often organizations need to show the benefits of making decisions based on environmental criteria. An Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator )can do the task by quantifying the benefits gained by purchasing EPEAT-registered computer desktops, laptops, and monitors. Enter the number of EPEAT-registered products purchased, and the calculator tallies the energy and money savings, as well as reductions in toxic substances, hazardous waste generated, etc. The calculator can also quantify improvements in equipment operation and end-of-life management practices. Currently, this tool is designed to evaluate EPEAT-registered desktop (with a CRT or LCD monitor) and notebook computers. The University of Tennessee developed the calculator under a cooperative agreement with EPA. This calculator tool is currently available in an Excel Spreadsheet format. In 2007, EPA plans to make the Calculator available as a web-based tool.
Electronics Recycling Web Portal
Provides information on collection, demanufacturing, and refurbishment and resale for electronics recycling; also provides guidance to households and organizations for promoting recycling and reuse efforts.