Consumer Electronics

Perhaps the fastest growing type of residential collection program in North America is the collection of consumer electronics — TVs, computers, audio equipment, VCRs, fax machines, and small appliances (Fig. 14.6). These consumer products are included in the definition of municipal solid waste in the United States [12], and on average, plastics make up about 20% by weight of these products [28, 29].

A recycling infrastructure to deal with computers and other major office equipment from commercial and institutional sources has been in place for several years. Several pilot studies were initiated in the United States in the late 1990s to evaluate different collection schemes such as curbside, drop-off center, retail store drop-off, and so forth for postconsumer electrical and electronic products [30-35]. New programs are starting up almost monthly. Figure 14.7 shows the types of products that have been collected from residential sources in a multi-year program in Henvipin Country, Minnesota [36] studies. In all of the pilot

Figure 14.6. Collection events for postconsumer electrical and electronic equipment. Ref. 37.

Misc.

Misc.

TVs 44%

Figure 14.7. Types of end-of-life electronic equipment collected predominately from residential sources. Ref. 36.

TVs 44%

Figure 14.7. Types of end-of-life electronic equipment collected predominately from residential sources. Ref. 36.

studies, TVs predominate, ranging from 36 to 69% by weight. Evidence to date is that the collection of these very heterogeneous and bulking products is costly. Collection volumes in 2001 were still too small to develop a detailed understanding of the true value of the recyclable secondary materials, including the plastics available from consumer electronics. All evidence points to extensive collection of consumer electronics in the future in North America, Europe, and Japan, indeed throughout the world, and significant volumes of plastics will likely be available for recovery beginning in 3-5 years. General information on the collection of end-of-life consumer electronic equipment for recycling is available from the Electronic Industries Alliance (Arlington, VA), www.eia.org, and from the International Association of Electronics Recyclers (Albany, NY), www.iaer.org. Tables 14.6 and 14.7 show the types of plastics available from

Table 14.6 Types of Plastics Found in End-of-Life Electronic Products Collected in Hennipin County, MN in 1999. Ref. 36

Plastic

Television

Computer

Misc.

Percent of Total

Resin

Plastics

Plastics

Plastics

Sample

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