Now entering its 10th year, E-Cycle Washington’s stats are staggering:
• 350 million pounds of electronics recycled – equivalent to the weight of 11,000 recycling trucks
• 26 million pounds of lead recovered – keeping tons of the toxic metal out of the landfill and the environment
• 323 collection locations, covering every county in Washington.
When E-Cycle began in 2009, it was among the first of its kind: A “product stewardship” program in which electronics manufacturers would set up and pay for a system to ensure their products were recycled at the end of their useful lives, and that toxic chemicals were kept out of the environment.
Following E-Cycle’s success, Washington state has set up a similar stewardship program for fluorescent lights, and is now developing programs to collect pharmaceuticals and solar panels.
E-Cycle continues to collect millions of pounds of electronics each year, although the mix has shifted with the march of technology. The program sees fewer of the old tube TVs and monitors, the source of much of the lead E-Cycle has recovered, and more flat screen TVs.
“The stats show that Washingtonians have embraced recycling electronics – 350 million pounds is a huge accomplishment,” said Christine Haun, who manages the E-Cycle program for the Washington Department of Ecology. “We hope that people keep right on recycling those unwanted electronics, both to keep toxic chemicals out of the environment and to reuse the valuable material.”
Although managed by the Washington Department of Ecology and electronics manufacturers, E-Cycle depends on a network of local collection sites and recyclers to ensure everyone in Washington has a convenient place to drop off old electronics. One such site is the recycling program of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which has been part of the E-Cycle program since the beginning.
“Before E-Cycle Washington, there was a large amount of electronic waste littered around our communities,” said Joaquin Bustamante, recycling manager for Colville Confederated Tribes. “It is tribal culture to not leave footprints behind, and E-Cycle Washington helps us reduce our footprint. It is important to us to leave the smallest footprint possible so future generations can have a high quality of life.”
Since 2009, the Colville Confederated Tribes’ recycling program has collected more than 216,000 pounds of electronics – 33,865 pounds in 2017 alone. And, along with doing the right thing for the environment, the program has been a boost for the community, Bustamante said.
“Thanks to our recycling center and programs like E-Cycle Washington, we are able to create jobs for tribal members,” he said. “Not only is it a job for them, but they believe in the program and support recycling electronics wholeheartedly.”
To find a recycling location near you call 1-800-RECYCLE or go online to 1800recycle.wa.gov.