New computer recycling and reuse organizations and policies

The National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), a U.S. trade association representing the private sector solid waste collection and disposal industry and the private sector recycling collection and processing industry, recently adopted a policy on electronic waste recycling. The policy was adopted in response to legislation introduced in U.S. Congress and in more than a dozen states requiring manufacturers or distributors to either "take back" used equipment or charge advance recycling fees for various types of electronics products.

NSWMA believes legislation mandating e-waste recycling or banning e-waste from disposal must provide a means for safely and economically recycling these products, including: building upon existing solid waste and recycling infrastructure for e-waste collection and processing; providing financial support for e-waste recycling through either an advance recycling fee or take-back provisions ensuring environmental, health, and safety standards for proper management of collected materials, including reporting and documentation procedures for end markets; and, supporting programs to develop new processing technologies and new end markets (including the possibility of recycled content provisions in new electronics products).

A 1997 study conducted by the Carnegie Mellon Foundation found that fewer computers are being sent each year to landfills in the U.S. because an increasing number are being recycled as markets for used computers and electronic equipment develop. The Mellon study suggests that nearly 150 million computers will be recycled in 2005 while about 55 million whole computer units will be discarded to landfills.

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Meanwhile, leaders of Canadian consumer electronics have joined forces to find environmentally friendly solutions to recycle computers through the newly created Electronics Product Stewardship Canada. The organization aims to launch its program in 2004.

For further information, contact David Betts at 613-238-4822, ext. 224