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Electronic Recycling Programs; The Next Looming Boondoggle?

Piles of e-waste

Image Credit: Ken Christensen KCTS9/Earthfix

Do these new Electronic Recycling programs seem like a waste of time and energy? We as Americans buy and use and discard more electronic devices than any other country. Our local governments are trying to come up with some kind of solution to this problem that is not only plaguing our country, but the world as a whole. I believe the problem is bigger than what a local government can and is able to handle. Recently our Electronic Recycling Program was suspended and then restarted, with the suspension, there became a pent up demand for this service, with limited hours and limits on the number of items being accepted from residents, this is nearing a crisis situation.

It is unlawful to put electronic refuse in the landfills by Illinois state law. What is the reaction of residents to a suspension of a electronic recycling program? Most people are conscientious and store and discard in a environmentally friendly way, but some will just dump their garbage on the side of the road and in ditches or empty lots. This causes local governments to assume the responsibility to clean up and discard these items. Not only is it unsightly and causes land values to drop, it becomes a environmental disaster in the making.

There is no easy answer to this dilemma. The Australian and European governments have tried to come up with a series of solutions, but the businesses that thrive on the consumption of the electronic devices and equipment have skirted the responsibility of disposing and recycling of the discarded and obsolete electronic equipment. They claim it isn’t cost effective for them to recycle electronic equipment, and this may be true. But, it does nothing to curb the disaster we are experiencing. In the video below from the Australian Public Television network highlights the need for a world wide response to this looming disaster.

The recycling of electronics here in the United States mirrors this but on a much larger scale, due to the larger consumption levels in the United States.

Does our local counties have the resources and determination to do this vital task?

The local governments are struggling with  budget shortfalls due to pension obligations and infrastructure expenditures, what is the probable outcome of this looming environmental disaster. My belief is that it will end with some kind of scam and the local governments will shirk the duty and responsibility of the disaster that will inevitability come. The local government will look to the over burdened State and Federal Government to bailout the programs.

There needs to be a better system where the industries and the government work together. As of now, it is not in the best interest to recycle most of the electronics collected. Yes, granted their are precious metals, but the process to recover these metals, would not be tolerated in the West. Not to mention of all the plastic and non-precious metals are not cost effective to recycle. This has the earmarks of a scam  and looming boondoggle.


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