How much electronic waste is generated in Washington?
Based on reported recycling data and statistical sampling of disposed solid waste, it is estimated that about 194 million pounds of electronic waste (or e-waste) was generated (recycled or disposed) in Washington in 2013. Actual e-waste generated in the state could be much higher, since some is stockpiled or stored indefinitely before being disposed or recycled. About 103 million pounds of the total generated was recycled, or 53 percent, with the remaining 92 million pounds, or 47 percent, disposed. In addition to the electronics recycled, a small amount are refurbished for reuse, however this indicator does not track that amount.
Electronic products include:
- Audio and stereo equipment
- VCRs and DVD players
- Video cameras
- Telephones, cellular phones, and other wireless devices
- Fax and copy machines
- Game consoles
The trends for the overall and per capita amount of electronic waste generated and recycled are similar (see per capita data in the link above). The electronic waste recycled increased steadily from 2003 until 2013.
The amount of electronic waste generated increased at a sharper rate than the amount of electronic waste recycled due to a greater increase in the amount of electronic waste being disposed, as shown in the updated 2009 Washington Statewide Waste Characterization Study.
Note: The graph shows a dotted trend line since data is not available for all years. Disposed amounts are calculated as a percentage of electronics contained in municipal solid waste. Data from 2003 through 2007 is based on 2003 Waste Composition Analysis for the State of Washington, which shows that electronics make up 0.3 percent of municipal waste. Data from 2008 through 2012 is based on the 2009 Washington Statewide Waste Characterization Study, which shows electronics made up 1.0 percent of municipal waste.
While the generation of e-waste is increasing, which is not an environmentally sustainable trend, the good news is the recycling rate for electronics is increasing. In 2003, only 20 percent of e-waste was recycled, but in 2013, 53 percent of e-waste was recycled. The increased availability of recycling opportunities for computers and TV through the E-Cycle Washington program is no doubt part of the reason for this.