Counties Try On E-Waste Tactics

AN ELECTRONICS RECYCLING company has decided that too many cooks don't always make a bad recipe. Phoenix-based Nxtcycle has announced results for its Shared Responsibility Program, which began in August 2002 and spread the burden of electronic waste (e-waste) recycling among manufacturers, retailers, municipalities, and waste processing and management facilities.

With Panasonic, Sharp and Sony underwriting the costs of recycling their own products collected, Nxtcycle has rounded-up approximately 39,000 electronic products from 16 special event collections in seven states and 19 permanent drop-off sites in three states from August to December 2002. Approximately 4,300 cathode ray tubes (CRTs) collected came from sponsoring manufacturers, Nxtcycle says.

Some municipalities have held single-day events, and others sponsored ongoing e-waste collection. The highest concentration of successful collection records was in Southern California, where approximately 25,000 products were collected.

To the north, the city of San Jose, Calif., presents residents opportunities to recycle electronic waste through two ongoing programs. One is the bulky goods program in which residents pay $21.25 to have three items picked up on a specially arranged curbside pickup. The other option is a neighborhood cleanup program that leads trucks through city neighborhoods every weekend allowing residents to bring out debris boxes containing anything they choose. Although this program does not specifically target e-waste, residents are permitted to put monitors and other items containing CRTs in the boxes. Once collected, the CRTs go to the Nxtcycle processing facility in Utah. Last year, San Jose recycled 175 tons of CRTs.

According to Cynthia Dunn of the city of San Jose Environmental Services Department, Integrated Waste Management Division, a clarification letter from the state Department of Toxic Substance Control that arrived in spring 2001 pushed the city to think critically about how to keep CRTs out of the waste stream. “We're working on longer-term solutions,” Dunn says. “But right now it's going to be difficult to keep [e-waste recycling] as a priority because the city of San Jose has not taken an official position on e-waste. But we have a team that's researching and making recommendations.”