The Electronic Product Recycling Law, Chapter 70.95N RCW, requires the manufacturers of computers, monitors and TVs (called covered products) to provide environmentally sound recycling of unwanted TVs, monitors, computers and laptops to residents, small businesses, small governments, special purpose districts and charities at no charge. The manufacturer-financed program called "E-Cycle Washington" began on January 1, 2009, collected nearly 26 million pounds of e-waste by August 2009, 100 million pounds by 2011, and 200 million pounds by July 2013. In the first year, this broke down to roughly 2,200 units collected each day across the state of Washington that were diverted from landfills and illegal dumping; as of 2013, 330 collection sites across the state together collect 3,000 devices per day.
The Electronic Product Recycling Law requires all manufacturers of covered products to register with the Department of Ecology, submit an administrative fee each year and participate in a recycling plan. If a manufacturer fails to register and pay the fee, their covered products may not be sold in or into Washington state after January 1, 2007. As of January 1, 2007, all computers, laptops, portable computers, televisions, and computer monitors sold or offered for sale, in or into Washington, must have a brand label permanently affixed to the product. Retailers can only sell covered products if the product carries a label with the brand name of the manufacturer.
The Washington Materials Management and Financing Authority (WMMFA) is the quasi-governmental organization created to implement the “Standard Plan” on behalf of the manufacturers. The WMMFA has a board of directors made up of 11 electronics manufacturers. All manufacturers participate in WMMFA’s Standard Plan unless they opt to submit an "Independent Plan" to manage their share of covered electronic products. Manufacturers that operate Independent Plans must comply with the same requirements as the Standard Plan.
Collectors and transporters are also required to register with the Department of Ecology. Check out the Collector's Focus Sheet (PDF) for guidance on how to be a collector in the Electronic Product Recycling Program.
Local governments in Washington State can use the E-Cycle Washington Local Government Toolkit (PDF) to find answers to questions, share information with residents and the community, and work with the media.
See the WMMFA press release celebrating the fifth year of electronics recycling and the infographic fact sheet (also see PDF version), as well as news coverage by KOMO, KNDO, KING5, The Columbian, KUOW, Hispanic Business, Tú Decides (PDF, in Spanish), and KUNS. KPQ in Wenatchee, KIT in Yakima, KIRO (MP3, 31-sec.), KOMO, KDYK, KMMG, KZML, KZTA, and KZTB ran radio spots or stories.
For an overview of the first eight months of the program view the fact sheet, Electronics Recycling in Washington: A Product Stewardship Solution (PDF).
Oregon E-Cycles, established by Oregon’s Electronics Recycling Law (ORS 459A.300-.365), is a statewide electronics recycling program that provides free recycling of computers, monitors and TVs to anyone bringing seven or fewer items to a participating collection site at one time. However, collection sites may accept more than seven items from households, small businesses and small 501(c)(3) nonprofits. The program is financed by electronics manufacturers and jointly implemented with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The program started on January 1, 2009 and has collected 9.54 million pounds of e-waste as of June 2009. An additional 13,910 units were diverted for reuse during the first six months of the program.
The 2014 Oregon E-Cycles Biennial Report to the Legislature (PDF) is now available on the DEQ website. DEQ is required submit a biennial report to the Legislature on the operations of Oregon E-Cycles under Oregon’s Electronics Recycling Law.
Oregon E-Cycles requires both current and former manufacturers that sell or sold computers, monitors, or TVs in Oregon to annually register with DEQ, pay a registration fee, participate in a recycling program, and cover recycling costs. As of January 1, 2009, all computers, monitors and TVs must also have a visible brand label permanently affixed to the product. Both current and former manufacturers that fail to comply with Oregon E-Cycles requirements may be subject to penalties.
There are two types of recycling programs a manufacturer can participate in: the State Contractor Program (SCP) or a manufacturer program. Manufacturers are automatically participants in the SCP unless they meet certain requirements and choose to submit a plan to DEQ to operate an independent program. The SCP is run by an independent third party, the National Center for Electronics Recycling. There are currently three manufacturer programs: Dell, IPR and MRM.
Retailers are permitted to only sell brands of computers, monitors and TVs from manufacturers that are listed on DEQ’s manufacturer compliance list as “compliant” or “pending.” This restriction applies to all sales methods including retail, catalog, phone and internet sales. Retailers must also provide customers who buy new computers, monitors and TVs with printed information about Oregon E-Cycles at the point of sale.
The new law prohibits disposal of computers, monitors and TVs in Oregon beginning January 1, 2010. More information about the ban is available on DEQ’s Web site. DEQ has also developed outreach materials for disposal facilities, haulers, local governments and others to use to educate the public about Oregon E-Cycles and the disposal bags.
King County Take it Back Network
The King County Take it Back Network, formerly the Computer Recovery Project, has been providing the residents and small businesses of King County with reuse and recycling options for their used computer equipment since July of 2000. It is a network of electronic recyclersincluding local computer repair and resale shops, nonprofit groups and computer retailers that have teamed up to offer multiple locations for donating, upgrading or recycling used computer equipment.
All network members have agreed to recycle broken computer monitors and televisions domestically and to avoid exporting overseas. Since computer monitors and televisions from commercial customers are no longer accepted for disposal at King County Transfer Stations, the Take it Back Network provides an environmentally sound alternative.
In June 2009, television stations ceased broadcasting analog signals and converted to digital. For more information about the conversion and how to get a coupon for a converter box, see the King County Take it Back Network Factsheet: Don't Trash Your Analog TV (PDF).
Quantifying Electronic Product Brand Market Share as a Metric for Apportioning Manufacturer Share of Recycling System Costs: Project Report (PDF file, 400KB) and project data.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection. October 5, 2007.
Good Guys Electronics Take-back Pilot Project (PDF file, 1.97MB).
Northwest Product Stewardship Council and US Environmental Protection Agency. February 2005.
Good Guys retail stores take back TVs from King County residents.
- NWPSC EPA Grant Application Proposal for the Pilot Project (PDF file, 100KB)
- Summary Report - Good Guys Electronics Take-back Pilot Project (PDF file, 531KB)
- Appendix A: Retailer Recruitment Letter (PDF file, 77KB)
- Appendix B: Memorandum of Understanding (PDF file, 139KB)
- Appendix C: EPA Materials Handling Guidelines (PDF file, 170KB)
- Appendix D: Training Documents (PDF file, 368KB)
- Appendix E: Advertising, Media Coverage, Promotional Materials (PDF file, 3.83MB)
- Appendix F: Customer Survey Results (PDF file, 184KB)
Product Stewardship Institute. June 2005.
From July 19 through September 6, 2004, Office Depot and Hewlett-Packard teamed up to offer the country's first free, nationwide, in-store electronics recycling program. Customers could drop off any brand of unwanted electronics for free at any of Office Depot's more than 850 retail locations in the continental United States.
The program brought in 5,100 tons of equipment during the 7 week program. All products collected from Office Depot stores were recycled at HP's two U.S. recycling facilities: in Roseville, California and near Nashville, Tennesee. The collection and recycling of the equipment was funded by Office Depot and HP.
The recycling program was developed with input from the Northwest Product Stewardship Council governments including King County, Snohomish County, City of Seattle, City of Tacoma, Kitsap County, and Clark County in Washington and Metro Portland in Oregon.
US Environmental Protection Agency. April 2004.
State-Assisted E-Scrap Collections in 9 Florida Counties (PPT file, 489KB).
Florida Department of Environmental Protection. January 21, 2004.
Snohomish County Electronic Collection and Recycling Progress Report (PDF file, 19KB).
Snohomish County. January 10, 2003.
Electronic Recycling Collection Events: Clark County Data (PDF file, 13KB).
Clark County. 2003.
End-of-Life Electronics Collection in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin (PPT file, 564KB).
City of Wauwatosa. 2003.
Snohomish County. December 9 – 20, 2002.
As of November, 2002, Snohomish County, Washington no longer accepts computers, laptops, monitors, separated computer circuit boards and televisions as garbage and requests that these items be recycled.
To provide residents and businesses with recycling options, the Snohomish County Take It Back Network was formed, a partnership between local government, retailers, waste haulers, recyclers, electronics manufacturers and consumers. The Take It Back Network provides collection, processing, and recycling options for used electronic equipment.
Each Take It Back Network partner fills a different niche. Snohomish County provides technical assistance to network members and publicizes the network to its businesses and residents. Retailers, non-profit organizations, and electronics repair and service shops serve as electronics collection sites, while garbage haulers and recyclers work to provide environmentally sound collection, transportation and recycling services.
Northeast Recycling Council. October 23, 2002.
Electronic Collection Event for the Benton County Regional Moderate Risk Waste Facility (PDF file, 18KB).
Benton County. 2002.
Mid-America Regional Council Electronics Events Summary: 2002 (PDF file, 31KB) and 2001 (PDF file, 23KB).
Marc Solid Waste Management District. 2002.
Recycling used Electronics: Report on Minnesota's Demonstration Project (PDF file, 1.19MB).
Minnesota Office of Environmental Assistance. July 2001.
Electronics Re-Use and Recycling Infrastructure Development in Massachusetts (PDF file, 653KB).
US Environmental Protection Agency. September 2000.
Pilot Programs in Washington State (PDF file, 18KB).
Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation.
The goal of the Computer TakeBack Campaign is to protect the health and well being of electronics users, workers, and the communities where electronics are produced and discarded by requiring consumer electronics manufacturers and brand owners to take full responsibility for the life cycle of their products, through effective public policy requirements or enforceable agreements.
The Computer TakeBack (CTB) Campaign was developed out of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition's (SVTC) Clean Computer Campaign and the Grass Roots Recycling Network's Electronics Take it Back! Campaign with participation from the Washington Citizens for Resource Conservation. Through their joint efforts, the CTB Campaign, a multi-organizational coalition, was formed.
A recent article in the Washington Post China Serves As Dump Site For Computers explains the harms of exporting electronic waste.