EU VS. US Electronics Recycling


Technology has been described as a double-edged sword. On one side, technology advancement has made much of our lives easier and drastically increased the amount of information we have access to through cell phones, televisions, computers, tablets and more. On the other side, if eWaste is not properly disposed of then it can be harmful for the environment through depletion of natural resources and land contamination. As the rate of updating and replacing outdated electronics increases, so does the stress on needed energy, precious metals and materials needed to create these devices. eWaste has become a growing problem, not just in the United States but worldwide. See how the European Union and the United States differ in their approach.

eWaste Recycling in the United States:

While electronics waste comprises only 2-3 percent of America’s solid waste stream, the lead, cadmium, chromium, and other materials in aging circuitry account for 70 percent of the hazardous material in landfills, according to an EPA report. The United States as a whole is behind on the eWaste Recycling mandates. Only 25 states, plus Washington D.C actually have laws against dumping eWaste, New York being one. That means that still half the states can just throw their electronics in a landfill, legally.

Where does it go?

eWaste Recycling in the European Union:

As the United States has struggled to pass legislation regarding eWaste recycling, the European Union (EU) passed legislation that required eco-friendly e-cycling and ensured the costs would be paid for by manufacturers. As a part of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive), consumers were given access to free recycling services, and easily accessible collection centers. The law also states that electronic retailers are obligated to take back any device brought in by a consumer for proper disposal. The EU also passed the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), also known as the “lead-free directive,” which restricts the use of several toxic materials in the manufacture of circuitry and electronic products. This helps keep toxic materials out of landfills by restricting them altogether.

The EU just recently passed a new law that will help keep electronic devices out of the landfill by making appliances and electronic easier to repair. As of 2021, manufacturers across Europe will be required to improve both the reparability and service life of devices and be able to provide replacement parts for at least 10 years after purchase. Although this legislation is not for cell phones and other small handheld devices, it’s a step in the right direction.

The biggest differences between the United States and the European Union when it comes to electronic recycling is the consistency and strict rules set by state and federal governments. While the United States leaves eWaste recycling laws to the individual states, the European Union gives consumers easy recycling access with consistency among their nations. The EU makes it easy to recycle where the US does not mandate a specific procedure or place to recycle.

ProTek Recycling can help you properly dispose of your unwanted eWaste by making it extremely easy for you, and we guarantee that none of the electronics we process end up in a landfill! Contact us to request your quote today!

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