The Future of Electronic Waste Management in California

California enacted the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (Act) to establish a funding system for the collection and recycling of certain electronic wastes, and much has been achieved through the efforts of approved collectors and recyclers, local governments, and other stakeholder groups. However, as we reflect on the successes of the past we necessarily must consider whether the current approaches to electronic-waste (e-waste) management will be as effective in the future. To that end, in July 2016, CalRecycle embarked on a long term project to evaluate options for the future management of e-waste in California.

The Covered Electronic Waste (CEW) Recycling Program, a key feature of the Act, addresses only certain video display devices. Supported by a consumer recycling fee, the state-administered payment system has fostered a robust material collection and processing infrastructure. By definition, however, the program finances the management of only a portion of the larger e-waste stream. Increasingly complex technologies are being discarded, often with less intrinsic material value, which are more difficult to dismantle and contain components requiring special handling. Meanwhile, global economics are disrupting commodity markets and necessary environmental regulations present challenges to industry compliance.

Without a doubt, California’s initial approach to the management of e-waste has been a success. The amount of CEW collected, processed in-state, and claimed for recovery and recycling payment is substantial. This has been accomplished on a foundation of the most comprehensive environmental rules in the United States. CalRecycle engaged stakeholders in analyzing the current SB 20 Program and differing approaches to e-waste management around the world. The resulting Future of Electronic Waste Management in California report reflects this analysis and contains several recommendations for enhancing the existing CEW Recycling Program.

CalRecycle will continue to engage with all interested stakeholders into the future and we encourage your continued participation.

Project Elements

Resources for Participants

  • Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC)
    The ERCC is a forum for coordination and information exchange among the state/local agencies that are implementing electronics recycling laws and all impacted stakeholders. Of particular interest are the maps depicting states with electronic waste legislation, covered entities and covered devices by state, and the section on “State Law Data”.
  • CalRecycle’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) webpage contains an EPR checklist that provides a description of the key attributes that should be considered and addressed in any EPR legislation.
  • Electronics EPR: A Case Study of State Programs in the U.S.
    This report published by the Product Stewardship Institute in July 2014 provides an overview of the 25 state programs that have passed legislation relating to electronic waste recycling. 23 of the states are implementing some type of an EPR approach. The report specifically examines how the various state programs address 14 key elements of an e-waste recycling program.
  • OECD policy guidance on resource efficiency
  • This was published in response to a request from the G7 Toyama Environment Ministers Meeting in May 2016. Provides a brief overview of general policies (not product specific) to increase resource efficiency along the entire lifecycle of products.
  • Current Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Program
    The Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 established the Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Program, which is a consumer fee and state-administered payment program.
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control–Electronic Waste
    Overview of how the physical management hazardous electronic waste is regulated in California.

Comments or Questions?