California’s landmark legislation, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (Act), and associated regulations establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes. The Covered Electronic Waste (CEW) Recycling Program is intended to provide all Californians convenient recycling opportunities for unwanted electronics. The Quarterly Update on California’s CEW Recycling Program provides statistics and a detailed explanation of the program.
Key Elements of the Program
- Regulatory information from CalRecycle and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) implementing the Act.
- CEW recycling fees funding the program are collected by retailers and remitted to the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA).
- Payments subsidize the average cost of covered electronic waste collection and recycling for approved collectors and recyclers.
- Manufacturer responsibilities to limit hazardous substances in certain electronic devices sold in California.
The Act defines a covered electronic device (CED) as a video display device containing a screen greater than four inches, measured diagonally, that DTSC has determined, when discarded, a hazardous waste.
When a California consumer buys a CED from a retailer, the consumer pays a recycling fee that funds the CEW Recycling Program. Currently, consumers are charged a fee of $4 on a screen more than four inches but less than 15 inches, $5 on a screen more than 15 inches but less than 35 inches, and $6 on a screen measuring 35 inches or more.
The retailer collects those fees and remits them to CDTFA. CDTFA deposits the funds into the Electronic Waste Recovery and Recycling Account (EWRRA). Approved recyclers and collectors of CEW subsequently receive payments to offset the average net cost of appropriate recovery, processing, and recycling activities. As of July 1, 2022, the current recovery and recycling rate is $.85/lb. for cathode ray tube (CRT) CEW and $1.03/lb. for non-CRT CEW. The recovery rate is $.33/lb. for all CEW types. CalRecycle pays approved recyclers the combined recycling and recovery payment, and recyclers pass the recovery payment on to the approved collectors who recovered the CEW.
CalRecycle works closely with DTSC, who is responsible for regulating and enforcing the physical management of e-waste. DTSC conducts inspections and compliance activities with recyclers and collectors.