Government regulations to divert electronics waste from landfills have shown an interesting and unintended turn.
“Take-back” programs promoted by state and federal environmental advocates have been successful in diverting more than 290,000 tons of e-waste away from landfills and toward responsible recyclers each year.
However, these programs have also promoted electronics hoarding. The demand for the glass from used electronics is at an all time low, which causes companies to avoid the process and expense of partnering with a certified electronics recycler like HOBI International.
The “glass tsunami” or stockpile of roughly 660 million pounds of glass being stored in warehouses across the country will cost anywhere between $85 million to $360 million to responsibly recycle.
Twenty-two states already have enacted a law that makes electronics manufactures like Sony, Toshiba and Apple financially responsible for the recycling of their old equipment. Although without initiatives by government overseers for proper regulatory standards, fraud has been a huge issue.
“Paper transactions” is a quietly known industry term that has recyclers buying fraudulent paperwork to represent the amount of e-waste they have collected but never actually did.
One of the largest producers of e-waste, the federal government, has strengthened the oversight of e-waste thanks to the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, federal agencies have been lacking at effectively tracking their e-waste. Large amounts continue to be disposed of through auction and online outlets.
“In these auctions, the waste is often sold to a first layer of contractors who promise to handle it appropriately, only to have the most toxic portion subsequently sold to subcontractors who move it around as they wish,” according to The New York Times.
Simply, companies see more profit in recycling computers, cellphones and printers because they contain more precious metals. Electronics like televisions and old monitors do not return as much profitability and can slip through the cracks by being hoarded in warehouses, dumped in landfills or shipped abroad.
Some companies are even refusing to accept CRT/TV to recycle.
It is a very real situation that some small time recyclers who are in over their heads with the amount of e-waste they have stored will abandon the stash due to insufficient profits.
In hopes to diminish this problem while keeping the waste stream free of e-waste number of states have provided recyclers with payments for proper disposal and assistance has been provided by electronics companies. Also, a number of electronics recyclers have developed innovative technology to clean lead from the tube glass.