Oregon agency notes that residential demand leads to higher-than-expected collection totals.
The Oregon E-Cycles Program, a network of more than 200 collection sites and recycling facilities throughout Oregon, reported that 18.9 million pounds of obsolete electronic equipment were collected last year, the first year of the program. Through the statewide program, the state collects unwanted computers, monitors and televisions from the public at no cost.
Oregon E-Cycles, administered by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), officially launched on Jan. 1, 2009. The program requires electronics manufacturers to fund a program to provide free electronics recycling services in the state. Manufacturers choose to either pay a recycling fee to participate in a DEQ-administered state contractor program or to implement and pay for their own statewide collection program.
“We suspected there was a lot of pent-up demand for these kinds of services,” says Kathy Kiwala, DEQ project lead for Oregon E-Cycles. “Given that e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream in America, coupled with the rate at which people purchase new electronics, it’s not surprising there’s a glut of e-waste just waiting to be recycled.”
Kiwala says that when DEQ and electronics manufacturer representatives were setting up the free recycling program two years ago, they placed the targeted first-year collection amount at 12.2 million pounds.
For this year, the state expects to collect more than 21 million pounds of electronics. The total could be bolstered by a new law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2010, making it illegal to dispose of computers, monitors and televisions in the garbage or at landfills.
Under the law that created Oregon E-Cycles, anyone may recycle up to seven computers, monitors and televisions at a time through Oregon E-Cycles collectors free of charge. The program does not cover computer peripherals such as keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, scanners or other types of electronics or appliances.
Last year, about 220 Oregon E-Cycles collection sites operated throughout the state year-round. That number has risen to nearly 250 sites this year. The program requires each participating collection program in Oregon E-Cycles to establish, at a minimum, a collection site in every city with a population of 10,000 or more, and a collection service in each county.