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Encouraging Industry-Led eCycling Policies

Consumer electronics industry is operating the first-ever industry-wide electronics recycling initiative to recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016.

The eCycling Leadership Initiative seeks to improve consumer awareness of the over 8,000 collection sites currently sponsored by industry; increase the amount of electronics recycled responsibly; increase the number of collection opportunities available; and provide transparent metrics on eCycling efforts. One billion pounds of electronics would fill about 89 million cubic feet, equivalent to an entire 71,000-seat NFL stadium.

Initiative Programs

The eCycling Leadership Initiative programs are committed to promoting responsible recycling of consumer electronics and we have established a set of principles to guide our efforts nationwide.

CEA's CRT Challenge:

  • CEA, along with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) andInnoCentive announced a second CRT Challenge on April 1, 2013 to identify financially viable, environmentally-conscious proposals for using recycled cathode ray tube (CRT) glass.
    • Dr. Thomas Engelhardt was the winner of the CRT Challenge. His solution is to use the leaded CRT glass in the vitrification of nuclear waste. Vitrification is a mature technology that has been used for more than 40 years. It involves the melting of waste material with glass-forming additives so that the final glassy product immobilizes the waste material, trapping the lead and the other elements in the glass. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared vitrification to be the “best demonstrated available technology” for heavy metals and high-level radioactive waste.
  • CEA, Environmental Defense Fund and InnoCentive announced the winners of an Eco-Challengein 2012 to develop compelling economic and environmentally preferable solutions for  recycling old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors. Winners:
    • Mario Rosato, an environmental engineer from Spain who has won four previous InnoCentive Challenges, proposed a closed-loop process for separating the lead from the glass in a form with high market value for a variety of industries.
    • Nulife Glass Processing Ltd., based in Manchester, U.K., proposed a solution that utilizes an extremely energy efficient electrically heated furnace, uniquely designed to produce minimal emissions. Find out their progress inWorld's First CRT Recycler Coming to New York.
    • Robert Kirby, a mechanical engineer from New Mexico, submitted an idea for combining CRT glass with cement to create tile and bricks that are tested, labeled and sold specifically for applications where lead shielding is required, such as X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms.
CEA recently produced and distributed a new educational initiative on ecycling by creating outreach tools for use in 4th to 6th grade classes in several key states.  The lesson plans are available for free online and were distributed in hard copy in partnership with Young Minds Inspired.  The lessons teach students how ecycling can help reduce the environmental impact of their technology choices and promote a more sustainable future. Students learn to create an ecycling action plan for their family and launch a campaign to encourage electronics recycling in their community.

Below is a recent television PSA CEA produced and distributed highlighting the importance of ecycling and how easy it is to recycle.

Year Three of the eCycling Leadership Initiative

The eCycling Leadership Initiative just completed its third year with even more successes. Specifically, participants of the eCycling Leadership Initiative arranged for the responsible recycling of 620 million pounds of consumer electronics. Additionally, there are more than 8,000 responsible recycling locations now available to consumers throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

To find out more about the third year, please read The Third Year Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative.

Year Two of the eCycling Leadership Initiative

The eCycling Leadership Initiative just completed its second year with more big successes. Specifically, participants of the eCycling Leadership Initiative arranged for the responsible recycling of 585 million pounds of consumer electronics, a 27 percent increase over the 460 million pounds recycled in 2011. Additionally, electronics manufacturers and retailers increased the number of recycling drop-off locations for consumers nationwide to more than 8,000 from just over 5,000 two years ago.

To find out more about the second year, please read The Second Year Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative.

Year One of the eCycling Leadership Initiative

The eCycling Leadership Initiative completed its first year in 2012. Participants of the eCycling Leadership Initiative arranged for the responsible recycling of 460 million pounds of consumer electronics in 2011, a 53 percent increase over the 300 million pounds recycled in 2010. Additionally, electronics manufacturers and retailers increased the number of recycling drop-off locations for consumers nationwide to nearly 7,500 from just over 5,000 in 2010 .

To find out more about the first year, please read the First Annual Report of the eCycling Leadership Initiative

Watch this video to find out more:

Our Principles

The Billion Pound Challenge

Increasing industry-led electronics recycling to one billion pounds annually. 

  • One billion pounds is more than three times the amount of consumer electronics companies recycled in 2010 (300 million pounds).
  • To put that in context, a billion pounds of used electronics is 89 million cubic feet or roughly the size of the average 71,000-seat NFL stadium.
  • Irresponsible recycling of electronics – usually informal, labor-intensive handling without customary safeguards for workers and the environment – is unacceptable, whether here or abroad. We will continue to avoid using recyclers and downstream processors who dump electronics in developing nations.
  • We support the broader movement toward third-party certified recyclers as a step toward ensuring that all electronics recycling – particularly recycling arranged by entities outside the consumer electronics industry – is done responsibly. We encourage more recycling in such facilities.
  • The consumer electronics industry supports implementation of these recycler certification systems so that, at a minimum, the 1 billion pounds we have challenged ourselves to recycle is done so in third-party certified facilities.



Raising eCycling awareness: 

  • More than 8,000 permanent collection sites available nationwide and growing.
  • Electronics manufacturers and retailers practicing strict recycling standards that protect human health and the environment, including practices that prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who irresponsibly dispose of electronics, whether here or abroad.
  • Recycler requirements developed and implemented by the consumer electronics industry that have served as the model for standards in the nascent recycler 3rd party certification system, including downstream auditing, triage processes for reusable equipment, and throughput tracking.
  • The consumer electronics industry supports emerging recycler 3rd party certification systems and is working with recyclers and other stakeholders to make these systems an effective “floor” for recycling performance.
  • Nationwide mail-back and drop-off options for most small electronics.


Infrastructure, recycling enhancement

Expanding opportunities for consumers to recycle and the amount recycled by:

  • Not using recyclers and downstream processors who irresponsibly dispose of electronics.
  • Working with state and local governments to maintain and develop new consumer eCycling opportunities that build upon existing solid waste infrastructures and follow industry’s strict standards.
  • Enhancing partnerships with charities and other community-based organizations to recycle electronics responsibly.
  • Emphasizing continual improvement by partnering with state and local governments to assess where additional eCycling infrastructure is needed.


Measurement and transparency

Publishing national progress reports using 2010 as a baseline that include:

  • The more than 5,000 industry-sponsored collection opportunities across all 50 states in 2010.
  • 300 million pounds of eCycling by the consumer electronics industry in 2010.
  • A national CEA recycling survey conducted in September 2012 found 63 percent of all consumers knew where they could recycle their consumer electronics. (CE Recycling and Reuse 2012 Edition)
  • The status of nascent recycler third-party certification systems and the capacity of certified recycling facilities.


Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability

Vice President, Technology Policy

Sr. Manager, Environmental Policy and Sustainability


  • December 2014 – Every recycling stakeholder needs to understand the challenged presented by Cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, currently the largest portion of material in the CE recycling stream. In December, CEA hosted a briefing for Capitol Hill staffers to describe emerging approaches for recycling CRTs. Panelists from Best Buy, Regency Technologies and the National Center for Electronics Recycling also explained how CRT recycling works best a shared responsibility between manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and municipalities.
  • November 2014 – Electronics recycling continues to receive strong support among consumers, according to a new survey from CEA. The Recycling and Reuse Study, 2014 Edition shows 82 percent of U.S. adults say recycling their old electronics is important or very important to them, while 30 percent recycled electronics products in the last year – a four percent increase from 2012. The latest report is an update to CEA’s surveys conducted in 2010 and 2012. A summary of the major survey results is now available online.
  • September 2014 – On September 24 and 25, CEA participated in a multi-stakeholder meeting with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) including manufacturers, recyclers, government officials and NGOs to discuss problems and solutions across the U.S. electronics recycling system.  Much discussion focused on the challenges associated with recycling leaded glass from old cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, CE design for recycling/durability/repair, and possible actions by EPA.  EPA expressed interest in convening future meetings on these and other topics. 
  • September 23, 2014 – The Council of the District of Columbia enacted the Sustainable Solid Waste Management Amendment Act of 2014, over the objections of Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray. The bill implements an e-waste program starting in 2016. CEA worked extensively with the Washington, D.C. Transportation and the Environment Committee to make the e-waste provisions more flexible, incorporate tiers for registration fees to protect small manufacturers, and allow affected entities to work together through a representative organization. The start of the rulemaking for this act is yet to be scheduled; CEA will continue to work with the District Department of the Environment through the rulemaking process.
  • September 22, 2014 – The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) issued a letter of interpretation regarding Act 139 – the VT Primary Battery Stewardship Program – avoiding duplicative regulation for CE products already covered by VT’s e-waste program.  In the letter, ANR stated that products containing primary batteries are not covered by Act 139, regardless of whether the batteries are “in” the product or packaged “with” the product when the product is sold.  The agency does not intend to move forward with a rulemaking.
  • September 16, 2014 – CEA and several CEA members met with officials from the Puerto Rican Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and Solid Waste Management Authority (SWMA) and local Puerto Rican recyclers in San Juan to seek clarity and discuss implementation issues with the Commonwealth’s e-waste law – “Law 18.”  EQB has yet to promulgate regulations for the law, despite a deadline of July 2012.  Recent amendments made to Law 18 by the Puerto Rican legislature stripped the law of requiring recyclers to hold an e-Stewards certification; the amendments now require the EQB to create its own recycling certification program within the next six months.  Absent regulations from EQB, CEA remains engaged in discussions with implementing agencies to seek additional clarity on compliance issues that remain unresolved.