Michigan misses opportunity to recycle more electronics
Computer and television recycling got a needed boost from the Electronic Takeback Law back in 2008 but little has been done since.
The E-waste Takeback Law requires manufacturers and distributors to provide free and convenient recycling opportunities for Michigan residents.
Currently, Michigan residents recycle about 1.6 lbs. per capita of household electronics. Compared to the 4.2 lbs. per capita recycling rate in Wisconsin, Michigan could use another boost.
In an effort to drive recycling rates of consumer electronics up, the Michigan Recycling Coalition (MRC) facilitated discussion among key stakeholders to develop a set of recommendations.
The resulting document, “The State of Electronics Recycling in Michigan,” highlights the impact of the current law, compares Michigan’s efforts to those of other states and makes a number of recommendations for improvement.
Among the recommendations for increasing the recycling of covered electronic devices is the need to establish enforceable recycling goals, potentially based on market share data.
According to Kerrin O’Brien, MRC executive director, “The takeback law requires manufacturers to provide free and convenient recycling for their products, but without an enforceable goal there’s nothing concrete to drive manufacturers to invest in recovering more electronics here in Michigan. So, they’re taking their business elsewhere,” said O’Brien.
“For the state of Michigan to have a successful electronics takeback program it has to be easy, free and convenient for all residents. A good program will benefit both the economy and environment,” said Todd Gibson of Vintage Tech Recyclers, an Illinois-based recycler with programs in Michigan and a new operation in Wayne County.
The Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 of 1994, Part 173 Electronics of 2008, also requires leaders of the Michigan House and Senate to convene an Electronic Waste Advisory Council.
While members were appointed to the Council early on, it has never met to discuss or evaluate the program.
The MRC recommendations were submitted to the Governor, Legislature, and Department of Environmental Quality in March of this year on behalf of the MRC, its board of directors and members.
According to the report, “Electronic products contain hazardous materials but also, valuable resources. The proper and safe management of these products at the end of their lifecycle is an ongoing concern and opportunity.”