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MADISON – During the first three years of Wisconsin’s electronics recycling program, households and schools have taken nearly 100 million pounds of old TVs, computers and other electronics to registered collection sites, keeping harmful materials out of landfills and putting valuable resources to new and productive uses.
“This is an impressive figure,” says Brad Wolbert, recycling and solid waste section chief for the Department of Natural Resources. “It shows Wisconsinites’ commitment to doing the right thing when it comes to their old electronics.”
In 2010, Wisconsin’s electronics recycling law banned many consumer electronics from landfills and incinerators and created a manufacturer-funded program, called E-Cycle Wisconsin, aimed at helping collect and recycle used electronics. During E-Cycle Wisconsin’s most recent program year, participating collectors took in 39.1 million pounds of electronics, or about 6.8 pounds per capita — one of the highest collection rates in the country.
“Electronics recycling supports the local economy, and it’s much cheaper and more convenient for Wisconsin residents than it used to be,” says Wolbert. “With the recycling options that exist today, it’s unfortunate that a few people are still putting electronics in the trash.”
Wolbert said a recent DNR survey showed that landfill and transfer station operators still see electronics arrive at their facilities in trash loads daily or weekly. While the amount has decreased significantly since the electronics disposal ban took effect, recyclable materials are still being buried in landfills.
According to E-Cycle Wisconsin’s recent annual report, recyclers in Wisconsin and nearby states process almost all of the electronics collected under the program. Nearly all of the metal, plastic and other materials in electronics can be separated and recycled into new products. Many electronics recyclers have opened new facilities, expanded existing facilities, added shifts or hired new employees as a result of the increased volume of electronics being collected.
There are now more than 400 permanent electronics collection points in the state, many of which accept items for free or a small charge. The number of registered collection sites has increased 70 percent since E-Cycle Wisconsin began in January 2010.
“As we buy new TVs, tablets and other devices this holiday season, it’s important to remember that old electronics can have a valuable future once they leave the house and should not be put in the trash,” Wolbert says. “Electronics collectors around the state are ready to accept old electronics when new ones arrive under the tree.”
The annual report and a list of collection sites by county is available by searching keyword “E-Cycle” on the DNR website.