Recycling Trends

eCycling Leadership Initiative

Consumer electronics industry leaders have launched the first-ever industry-wide electronics recycling initiative to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, which would be a more than threefold increase over 2010.

The eCycling Leadership Initiative seeks to improve consumer awareness of the more than 5,000 collection sites currently sponsored by industry; increase the amount of electronics recycled responsibly; increase the number of collection opportunities available; and provide transparent metrics on eCycling efforts. One billion pounds of electronics would fill about 89 million cubic feet, equivalent to an entire 71,000-seat NFL stadium.

Initiative Programs

The eCycling Leadership Initiative programs are committed to promoting responsible recycling of consumer electronics and they have established a set of principles to guide efforts nationwide.


Apple’s approach to recycling begins in the design stage, creating compact, efficient products that require less material to produce. The materials used—including arsenic-free glass, high-grade aluminum and strong polycarbonate—are highly valuable to recyclers, who can reclaim them for use in new products. All e-waste collected by Apple-controlled voluntary and regulatory programs worldwide is processed in the region it was collected, nothing is shipped overseas for recycling or disposal. Apple has instituted recycling programs in cities and college campuses in 95 percent of the countries where products are sold, diverting more than 130.2 million pounds of equipment from landfills since 1994. Apple operates a number of take-back and recycling programs including free takeback of Apple computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones.

Best Buy

Best Buy collects and recycles products in all 1,100-plus U.S. stores, including Puerto Rico, as an “in store” solution for customers to bring their old or unwanted consumer electronics for recycling no matter where they were purchased. Most consumer electronics are accepted at Best Buy stores at no cost, while non-Best Buy branded TVs less than 32-inches and monitors are accepted for a $10 fee that is offset by a $10 Best Buy gift card. Along with an in-store drop off program and kiosks, Best Buy also offers a TV haul-away service when a new product is delivered, and a Tech Trade-In program compensating consumers with gift cards for valuable products. In early 2011, Best Buy stores nationwide collected nearly 400 pounds each minute for recycling.

Dell Reconnect

A partnership between Dell and Goodwill Industries International lets consumers drop off used computers for no-cost recycling. Launched in 2004, Reconnect has diverted more than 96 million pounds of electronic waste from landfills and created about 250 “green jobs.” Donated equipment meeting Reconnect’s criteria are resold, and devices needing repair are either refurbished or broken down into parts to be recycled by Dell partners. The program supports Goodwill’s job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face other challenges to finding employment.


HP began recycling computer electronics in 1987, and currently operates recycling services in 56 countries or territories worldwide. In the United States they launched a buyback program in January 2009 that includes free recycling if an HP- or Compaq-branded system has no value for consumers. HP recycled more than 200 million pounds of hardware globally in 2009, resulting in an estimated 210,000 tons of avoided carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. Since 1987, HP has recovered over 2 billion pounds of electronic product (for recovery and recycling) and HP print cartridges (for recycling).


LG’s recycling program provides consumers with the ability to drop off unwanted electronics at a Waste Management designated eCycling Center, or other alternative methods may be available. LG has recycled more than 7 million pounds since 2009, of which 3.3 million pounds were through LG’s voluntary program.

Nintendo of America

Because video game systems and games retain their value for many years beyond their retail lifecycle, Nintendo of America offers a number of customer support options to maximize their continued use, while also offering a free courtesy Take-Back Program to minimize the waste disposal of its products. The Take-Back Program provides for recycling of Nintendo hardware, software, accessories, and rechargeable batteries. Nintendo supports the goals of certifications such as R2 and e-Steward’s, and we believe that a successful national recycling certification must be supported by government, business and affiliated associations. Nintendo partners with a national recycler with a commitment to environmental stewardship that meets our corporate social responsibility goals and values.

Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba (Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC)

Announced at the 2008 International CES, these three leading electronics brands were the first to create a Product Stewardship Organization to manage collection and recycling programs in the United States. The goal of the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC (MRM) is the creation of national recycling infrastructure that provides convenient recycling opportunities to consumers for used electronic products. It provides compliance services to manufacturers in states with recycling requirements, and also operates a voluntary nationwide collection and recycling service for brands produced by Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Vizio. Since October 2007 MRM has established 840 collection sites across the U.S. and recycled more than 78 million pounds of electronics.


Launched in the fall of 2008, Samsung Recycling Direct(SM) offers drop off locations in all 50 states. Samsung Recycling Direct was initiated upon the principles of protection of people, the environment and developing countries through responsible management of materials. Samsung Recycling Direct is an e-Steward Enterprise, and validates responsible recycling through third-party audits and recycling only through recycling partners who are committed to becoming certified e-Stewards recyclers. As an e-Steward Enterprise, Samsung holds its recyclers accountable for environmentally responsible recycling, including no landfill, incineration, or export to developing countries of hazardous electronic wastes as commonly defined. Last year, in 2010, Samsung responsibly recycled over 50 million pounds of e-waste across the U.S., most of which was done voluntarily.


The Sony Take Back Recycling Program was the first national recycling initiative to involve both a major electronics manufacturer and a national waste management company. Since its inception in 2007, Sony has established a goal of collecting a pound of electronics for every pound it produces. To date Sony has collected and recycled more than 43 million pounds of electronics.


The Billion Pound Challenge

Increasing industry-led electronics recycling to one billion pounds annually:

  • One billion pounds is more than three times the amount of consumer electronics companies recycled in 2010 (300 million pounds).

  • To put that in context, a billion pounds of used electronics is 89 million cubic feet or roughly the size of the average 71,000-seat NFL stadium.

  • Irresponsible recycling of electronics – usually informal, labor-intensive handling without customary safeguards for workers and the environment – is unacceptable, whether here or abroad. We will continue to avoid using recyclers and downstream processors who dump electronics in developing nations.

  • We support the broader movement toward third-party certified recyclers as a step towards ensuring that all electronics recycling – particularly recycling arranged for by entities outside the consumer electronics industry – is done responsibly. We encourage more recycling in such facilities.

  • The consumer electronics industry supports implementation of these recycler certification systems so that at a minimum the 1 billion pounds we have challenged ourselves to recycle is done so in third-party certified facilities.


Raising eCycling awareness:

  • More than 5,000 permanent collection sites available nationwide and growing.

  • Electronics manufacturers and retailers practicing strict recycling standards that protect human health and the environment, including practices that prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who irresponsibly dispose of electronics, whether here or abroad.

  • Recycler requirements developed and implemented by the consumer electronics industry that have served as the model for standards in the nascent recycler 3rd party certification system, including downstream auditing, triage processes for reusable equipment, and throughput tracking.

  • The consumer electronics industry supports emerging recycler 3rd party certification systems and is working with recyclers and other stakeholders to make these systems an effective “floor” for recycling performance.

  • Nationwide mail-back and drop-off options for most small electronics.

Infrastructure, Recycling Enhancement

Expanding opportunities for consumers to recycle and the amount recycled by:

  • Not using recyclers and downstream processors who irresponsibly dispose of electronics.

  • Working with state and local governments to maintain and develop new consumer eCycling opportunities that build upon existing solid waste infrastructures and follow industry’s strict standards.

  • Enhancing partnerships with charities and other community-based organizations to recycle electronics responsibly.

  • Emphasizing continual improvement by partnering with state and local governments to assess where additional eCycling infrastructure is needed.

Measurement and Transparency

Publishing national progress reports using 2010 as a baseline that include:

  • The more than 5,000 industry-sponsored collection opportunities across all 50 states in 2010.

  • 300 million pounds of eCycling by the consumer electronics industry in 2010.

  • A national CEA recycling survey conducted in August 2010 that found 58 percent of all consumers knew where they could recycle their consumer electronics.

  • The status of nascent recycler third-party certification systems and the capacity of certified recycling facilities.

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