Manufacturers to give electronic recycling a try

In an effort to minimize possible adverse effects of discarded electronic devices on the environment, a group representing more than 2,000 vendors announced Thursday it would test-run several recycling options for PC monitors, TVs, computers and computer peripherals.

The project will start in October, last for a year, and involve several states in the United States, according to the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), a 2,100 member group of electronic and high-tech associations and companies, in a news release.

Participating manufacturers include Canon Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., JVC Americas Corp., Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV, Sony Corp. and Nokia Corp. More are expected to join, the EIA said.

As sales of new hardware rise, more discarded electronic devices end up in landfills. To determine how to recycle efficiently and cost-effectively the EIA will test three recycle models: a municipal model, a retailer model and a consumer drop-off model. The information generated from the three models will guide the development of a long-term program, the EIA said.

Under the municipal model local governments would collect used electronics and transport those to a recycler, which is reimbursed by participating manufacturers. In the retailer model industry provides funds to retailers, who will then hold collection events and transport the material to recyclers. In the consumer drop-off model consumers would bring devices to a retailer and pay a fee to cover recycling costs. The industry would fund promotion, education and rebates.

Environmentally conscious PC disposal isn’t new – some individual vendors already have their own plans in place. In May Hewlett-Packard announced it would accept used equipment of any brand for recycling. The company collects and processes such items in the continental U.S. for a fee ranging from US$14 to $34 per item.

IBM Corp. has been accepting PCs, monitors, printers, and optional attachments in the U.S. for a fee of $29.99 since last November. Among other PC sellers, recycling initiatives have mostly been limited to buyers of new equipment. Gateway Inc., for example, offers a rebate of up to $50 toward a new Gateway PC to customers who turn in an old one.

In Europe the European Union has been working on guidelines for the recycling of electronics. In some countries, the Netherlands for example, consumers already pay a disposal fee used to pay for recycling when they purchase new electronic devices and appliances.

The Electronics Industry Alliance in Arlington, Va., can be reached at