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E-Waste Systems Thinking

SUMMARY:  Electronic products are indispensable in today’s world and their numbers continue to grow.  But what happens to all these products once no one wants them anymore?  Listen to the Washington State’s adventure down the road of “product stewardship”.  This story travels to Asia, to the Washington State legislature, across the US and back again, and ends with a miraculous finish in the form of a safe and convenient recycling program. 

BIO: Lisa Sepanski is with the King County Solid Waste Division and has been working in the recycling field for more than 25 years. She is the Washington Chair of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) which works on policies to increase the safe recycling of toxic and hard-to-handle products. Lisa was part of the coalition that helped to pass Washington’s Electronic Product Recycling Law in 2006 which culminated in the “E-Cycle Washington” program, one of the most successful producer responsibility programs for e-waste in the nation. Lisa is on the board of the Washington State Recycling Coalition and is a member of the eStewards Leadership Council, the Standard for safe, ethical and responsible e-waste recycling and refurbishment.

Links for Learning More:

1.EarthFix video report on recent tracking of e-waste that still gets dumped in other countries with little or no environmental protection or human health and safety precautions.

2.Article on producer responsibility programs for e-waste 

3.Electronic product recycling law RCW 70.95

4.E-Cycle Washington

5.The Washington Materials Management and Financing Authority  is the organization that runs the E-Cycle Washington program on behalf of the computer, monitor and TV manufacturers.

6.Northwest Product Stewardship Council

7.Basel Action Network (BAN)

8.“Exporting Harm” report and video that really raised awareness about the e-waste problem.  

9.Call2Recycle is the battery stewardship program.

10.Current legislative effort to authorize paint manufacturers to start a paint recycling program for unwanted paint that would be funded by an assessment on a can of paint when purchased.

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