Product Stewardship Institute, Inc.

Electronics

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Used electronic products are the most rapidly growing waste problem in the world due to their quantity, rapid obsolescence, and toxicity. The National Safety Council estimated that more than 300 million computers became obsolete in the United States in 2004. The International Association of Electronics Recyclers projects that 1 billion computers will be scrapped worldwide by 2010, at a rate of 100 million units per year. Electronic wastes contain toxic substances, including lead, mercury, cadmium, lithium, brominated flame retardants, and phosphorous coatings. These toxic materials can be released upon disposal, posing a threat to human health and the environment. Inconsistencies in worker safety and environmental protection mean potential liability concerns for those sending electronics to recycling facilities – especially if these facilities are located in developing countries. In addition, domestic recycling markets for some collected materials are not fully developed. State and local governments have neither the existing collection and recycling infrastructure, nor the necessary funds to properly manage electronics. PSI is working with state and local government agencies to pass electronics product stewardship legislation, and is also working with U.S. Congressional leaders to develop national electronics waste management legislation that will be consistent with state laws.

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