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E Waste Recycling in California

February 13th, 2013 · No Comments

E Waste recycling in California has become a growing concern. Californian government has made some laws to keep a check on e waste generation and disposal.

E-waste or the electronic waste has become a growing concern all around the globe. This waste is increasing every year as the technology is evolving very fast and the outdated gadgets and technology become out of use rapidly and results into more and more e-waste accumulation every year. This post states some of the laws made by the Californian Government to keep a check on the e-waste generation and disposal. Let us have a look at those measures.

e waste recycling

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1. Electronic Waste Recycling Act, SB 20 (Sher, 2003)

As a result of the European Economic Union’s Product Stewardship Initiative, this act was enforced by the Californian Government on 1st January 2005 that resulted into the implementation of e-waste recycling and recovery program. The purpose of the SB20 was to offer completely free of cost recycling services to the consumers in order to prevent and reduce the dumping of the electronic waste in the forms of landfills and stockpiling illegally and to reduce the amount of e-waste resulted toxins that were being administered into the MSW (Municipal Solid Waste) streams.

  • After the enactment of this law, more than 140,000 tons worth CEDs were generated out of which about 60 million pounds of that e-waste was taken back under the electronic waste recycling program during 2007. This figure rose to 135 million pounds which were recycled and in the year 2008, it amounted to 214 million pounds and is increasing ever.
  • In 2006, the electronic waste recovery rate happened to be merely 29% which almost tripled to 58% in 2008.
  • Since the very enactment of this law, around 600 recycling plants and locations have already been set up statewide.
  • This program has resulted in an efficient recycling of even more than 915 million electronic devices which were covered under its legislation.

2. Cell Phone Takeback and Recycling, AB 2901 (Pavley, 2004) 


This law necessitates all the major cell phone manufacturers in the entire Californian state to be obliged to follow the recycling or the takeback business model. As per this model, they have the responsibility to collect the used cell phones and the related electronic waste from the user at no additional cost form the users and then to either recycle them, reuse them or at least dispose them of properly in a completely eco-friendly manner.

DTSC or The Department of Toxic Substances Control has estimated that in 2010, of 18 million cell phones that were sold in the Californian state alone, around  3.7 million cell phones were recycled which amounted to the recycling rate of 21%, whereas the recycling rate in 2007 was merely 17%. This is a really optimistic figure considering that the national recycling rate of the entire United States is merely 10% as compared to the State of California alone.

3. Rechargeable Battery Takeback and Recycling AB 1125, (Pavley, 2005)

This act also has almost the same jurisdiction as the previous one. As per this act, the cell phone or other battery retailers are required to collect the used batteries from the consumers at no cost on them at all. This has provided for convenience and huge incentives to the consumers. It has become easier for them to dispose of or deposit used batteries that have reached their end of lives and at the end of this process, the consumer feels contributing towards the environment in a really positive manner.

In 2009 alone, more than 8 million pounds of used rechargeable batteries were accumulated from the consumers in California alone.

These laws are a proof of the kind of seriousness and dedication exhibited by the Californian Government against e-waste and e-pollution. This is no doubt an appreciable effort by both the Californian Government and the Californian people.

Tags: Environment