Reminder: Champaign County Electronics Recycling Event, April 12, 2014

Over on the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) Blog, I wrote a post about the FREE residential electronics collection event being hosted by Champaign County (IL) tomorrow (Saturday, April 12) from 8 AM to noon at Parkland College. Click here to read that post, which includes a list of acceptable and non-acceptable items, and a phone number to call with questions. If you’re not able to attend tomorrow’s event, check out the Champaign County Electronics Recycling Guide at This document includes a list of local businesses and the electronic devices they accept for recycling year round.

If you’re outside Champaign County in IL, see the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s list of registered electronics collectors, recyclers, and refurbishers in Illinois at to find businesses in your area. Check the company web sites of the electronics recyclers in your area to see who is certified as R2, e-stewards, or both, and if possible, use a certified recycler. Such recyclers have been assessed by independent third parties to verify that they are in compliance with a publicly available technical specification. For more information on certification, see

Alternatively, wherever you are located within the United States, you can visit the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) website ( and enter your zip code to find electronics take back and recycling programs in your area. The Sustainable Electronics Initiative also has a fact sheet listing many electronics take-back and donation options.

Don’t Forget Electronics on America Recycles Day

Happy America Recycles Day! Celebrated annually on November 15, America Recycles Day is a program of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. Those of us who were alive in the 1970s will remember Keep America Beautiful, or KAB, as the folks who brought us one the most successful public service campaigns ever, in the form of a Native American man weeping while bearing witness to thoughtless pollution. (You can watch a clip of that famous public service announcement featuring Iron Eyes Cody, and read more about KAB’s history on the organization’s web site. Incidentally, it’s interesting to consider how that PSA might look today if it focused on e-waste instead of some of the more obvious forms of pollution like air pollution, litter, etc.)

Celebrated since 1997, America Recycle’s Day is about educating the public about how and what to recycle, while encouraging people to do so as part of their daily routine.  When most people take part in America Recycles Day events, they focus on the typical items you might place in the nearest blue bin or on the curb for weekly collection–paper, plastics, aluminum cans, etc. However, if you’re reading this blog, you already know that it’s just as important to consider recycling or reusing electronics when they are no longer of use to you.

So take the opportunity today to educate yourself, friends, family and colleagues about how you can responsibly dispose of your electronic devices. Visit the KAB website, and use the recycling location tool available there through KAB’s partnership with Earth911 to find electronics recycling locations in your community.  Just type “electronics” into the “What?” field (or a specific type of item, such as “television” or “batteries”) and then enter you zip code into the “Where?” field to call up a list of area businesses or organizations that accept such items for proper recycling.

Also, read the SEI fact sheet on Electronics Take-Back and Donation Programs to learn other options if there are not local resources available to you, or if you’re interested in selling devices for some extra cash or donating your electronics for a good cause. SEI also provides an extensive Summary of U.S. State Laws on Electronic Waste and Disposal Bans so you can learn what laws, if any, apply in your area. The Law & Policy section of the SEI web site will also help you learn about regulations on the local, federal and international levels, as well as providing more information on voluntary initiatives.

And take some time to think about what is involved in the responsible recycling of electronic devices. Read about the existing Certification programs on the SEI site.

Then take the America Recycles Day pledge today, and be sure to check the box on the pledge form that applies to electronics: “I pledge to recycle my used batteries, cell phones and other electronic waste through a take-back program or e-waste facility near me.”

And then live by that pledge–365 days a year.

Call for Papers for Electronics & Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment

The second annual SEI Symposium, Electronics & Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment, is scheduled for March 23-24, 2011 on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The call for papers is available online.

The annual symposium brings together members of industry, academia, government, technical assistance providers, representatives of relevant non-profit organizations, and others to discuss the growing problem of e-waste generation and handling, as well as how to create a more sustainable electronics manufacturing system throughout product lifecycles. See the SEI web site for highlights from last year’s symposium.

Questions can be directed to Aida Sefic Williams, Conference Coordinator.

Death of Advanced Recycling Fee?

thumb1In the last few weeks, the issue of California’s e-waste recycling has become an increasingly prominent issue.  When speaking of US electronic waste rules, the general statement was “California is the only one with an advanced recycling fee (ARF)”, but their process seemed to work. After all, California’s e-waste laws have been in place much longer than e-waste legislation of other states. Unfortunately, it seems that California’s model of e-waste collection has unfortunately failed.

It seems that in 2002, when e-waste legislation was first considered and drafted, California also considered manufacturer responsibility legislation (Modesto Bee), which is currently used by 21 states. The voices of the tech industry, however, prevailed and California passed an e-waste recycling law requiring an advanced recycling fee (ARF). Given this legislation, when a customer purchases a new monitor or television, they are charged a fee (between $8 and $25), which should in turn be used to recycle the purchased equipment. The goal of the program was to provide a way for consumers to dispose of their electronics responsibly while providing funds for a green industry (Sacramento Bee). While the state had good intentions, no one could foresee the fraudulent activities that would take place.

Due to the amount of state-funding, hundreds of new electronics recyclers sprung up throughout the state (Merced Sun-Star). State officials passing the ARF legislation only counted on the environmental spirits in the state, but they did not foresee the greed that would take over the program. This has led to organizations importing electronics from Arizona and other neighboring states, in order to recycle the electronics within California and receive money for recycling such electronics products. To date, the state of California has paid approximately $320 million for electronics recycling, since the law’s passing in 2005 (Desert Dispatch). The state additionally recognizes that approximately $30 million have been used to recycle electronics which came in from other states, but it has rejected approximately $23 million of fraudulent claims. The Sacramento Bee offers a chart detailing California’s recyclers with the most claim denials.

Understandably, many are angered by the news and knowing their money is used to recycle e-waste  brought in from illegally other states. Environmentalists, however, have another problem with California’s law and its mistreatment – the disposal of usable monitors. California’s model makes it more enticing for people to recycle their “old” but usable monitors, instead of using them until they physically break or donating them to a charitable organization. ScrippsNews tackles this issue in their article “Mounds of usable computer monitors in Calif. dumps“.

So how can California handle this apparent fraud and misuse of their laws and funds? Will they change their laws to reflect other US states? If so, how long will this process take? What can be done in the meantime? These questions need answers – and soon! The failing system needs to go to the root of the problem, update legislation to meet these new challenges, and with proper care and maintenance, the system will be working better, more effectively, and should last for a very long time.

SEI Symposium

Symposium PictureThe 2010 Electronics and Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment Symposium held two weeks ago was a great success! Over 20 impressive speakers in the fields of academia, manufacturing, retail, government, and recycling presented their take on electronics and sustainability. We had an impressive turnout, lively conversation, and overall, a great time had by all.

Here are some highlights from the event: Continue reading “SEI Symposium”

Watch Willie Cade's lecture: "The Truth, Tragedy, and Transformation of E-Waste"

On November 11th, 2009, at the I-Hotel and Conference Center in Champaign, IL, Willie Cade gave a lecture titled, “The Truth, Tragedy, and Transformation of E-Waste”.

Continue reading “Watch Willie Cade's lecture: "The Truth, Tragedy, and Transformation of E-Waste"”

SEI Provides "Ask an Expert" Service

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is pleased to announce the availability of its online “Ask an Expert” service for the submission of questions related to electronics and their environmental impacts.

Questions related to electronic waste, or “e-waste” issues, sustainable electronics design, improving electronics manufacturing processes and related topics can be submitted via an online form available at SEI staff members will provide one hour of free Internet and/or literature searching related to your sustainable electronics question. Also provided is input from ISTC staff scientists and/or referrals to external contacts for further information on technical questions. Responses can be expected within a week (usually within 1-2 business days). Citizens, organizations, government agencies, businesses, non-profit groups, and academic institutions are all invited to use this free service.

The responses obtained from the Ask an Expert service are meant for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as endorsements by SEI, ISTC or any affiliated organization. Responses are also meant to be starting points for inquirers rather than definitive answers, advice or prescriptions for action. Inquirers must draw their own conclusions based upon the information provided.

In the near future, questions and answers received via this service will be archived and searchable on the SEI web site, An extensive collection of resources is also under development for the web site, and archived Ask an Expert questions and answers will be integrated into relevant resource collections.

According to the U.S. EPA, Americans own nearly three billion electronic products and continually purchase new ones to replace those deemed “obsolete,” even though about two-thirds of the devices are still in working order. As designers, manufacturers and the general public are becoming more aware and concerned about this issue, SEI’s Ask an Expert service will be one way to address concerns and assist in more sustainable practices.

SEI is a consortium dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, remanufacturing, and recycling electronic devices. Members of the consortium include academia, non-profit organizations, government agencies, manufacturers, designers, refurbishers, and recyclers. Specific elements of the SEI include programs for research, education, data management, and technical assistance. SEI conducts collaborative research; facilitates networking and information exchange among participants; promotes technology diffusion via demonstration projects; and provides forums for the discussion of policy and legislation.

For more information on SEI, visit or contact Dr. Tim Lindsey, Associate Director of ISTC, at 217-333-8955 . For more information on the Ask an Expert service contact Laura Barnes, ISTC librarian at 217-333-8957.

ISTC is a unit of the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Diigo Digest: All You Need to Know About Finding Electronics Recyclers

by Amy Cade

This week’s topic for discussion is about the health impacts of electronic components/waste. I have decided to approach this topic in a roundabout way. Stay tuned for a comprehensive summary of articles that discuss the affects of lead and mercury when they are exposed through open burnings of electronic parts. But this week I would like to highlight websites that offer information to consumers about how to donate or responsibly recycle old electronics from the beginning.

imagesProbably one of the most comprehensive websites about finding recyclers is the EPA’s page entitled, “Where can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products?” This provides an extensive list of recyclers and recycling programs by manufacturers.

The “e-Steward” program is a voluntary certification program that recyclers can apply for. If you donate your computer to a recycler that is e-Steward certified, you are guaranteed responsible recycling. One way the e-Steward program ensures this is by promising that your electronics will not be exported because exportation of waste can often result in the waste being handled or recycled in ways that are detrimental to the environment and human health.  A complete list of e-Stewards can be found on the Electronics TakeBack Coalition website or at

PCMAG.COMAnother site offering information on where to give your old electronics is the Electronics Recycling Superguide. This offers a list of manufacturer recycling programs, as well as explanations and benefits of those programs.  (Note the manufacturer list begins here; use the links on the left side of the online article to access various portions of the alphabetical manufacturer list.)

Some programs are easier to use than others. In Illinois, for example, Panasonic’s collection program offers a large number of collection centers and will take back any type of brand.

Editor of, Louis Ramirez, suggests the HP and Gateway programs are two of the best manufacturing trade-in programs for consumers because they tend to offer the most money back.

The PCMAG article  also offers a list of retailers that offer take-bake programs.

Finally, includes a list of web-sites that offer cash for your electronics. Gazelle, for instance, offers free shipping of your item and will pay you $115 for your electronics on average.

I have also found databases that include recyclers which are not on the websites listed above. These databases are: and .

(Please note that this post is intended for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as an endorsement of any electronic recycling website or any affiliated organization.)

I would like to invite readers to submit information on any recycling/donation resource not covered in this post in the “Comments” section below.

Sustainable Management of Electronic Waste (e-Waste)

  • Design for environment cleaner production, extended producer responsibility, standards and labeling, product stewardship, recycling and remanufacturing are some of the practices adopted by various countries around the world to deal with the e-waste stream. An overview of these practices is presented and the manner in which they contribute to the sustainable management of e-waste is discussed.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

BAN, ANAB Join Forces for Electronics Recycling Certification

The Basel Action Network (BAN) has joined forces with the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to launch the ANAB accreditation for the certifying bodies that will audit and certify BAN’s e-Stewards Certification program. Read the full BAN press release here.

The e-Stewards program is a third-party audited certification BANANABlogosprogram for electronics recyclers meeting the “highest standards of environmental and social responsibility.” According to the program web site, these standards include “no toxic e-waste dumped in landfills or incinerators, exported to developing countries, or sent to prison labor operations and no release of private data.”