The bulk of the items turned in for recycling as electronic waste are actually plastics. Most computers, televisions, notebooks, and so forth are in large part made up of plastic with just a relatively small mount of metal and other materials.

Many e-waste recycling laws for recyclers do not include those plastics, so the majority of the electronic waste that is recycled (rather than re-used) is still sent to the landfill once the metals have been extracted.

Plastics are not easily recycled for many reasons. Some can be simply melted down and re-cast as new objects or shredded and and incorporated in other materials for different uses. Most plastics, however, are not so simple and require complex handling to recycle, so they are often not recycled, but are instead dumped.

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An emerging trend in electronic retail is to encourage customers to bring in their e-waste by giving them an incentive to bring it to the store – thus, secondarily, getting them in the door. This trend is offering gift cards as “buy backs” for unwanted electronics. The idea is pretty simple and very effective, so it’s catching on nationally.

If you have an old computer that is just gathering dust on a shelf, you can grab it and take it into a retailer for recycling and get a gift card, usually at a set rate for types of items, a computer might be $25. Since you’re recycling an old computer, you’re likely in the market for a new one. With $25 in hand, you have a little incentive to shop at the store you just got the card from.

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http://www.ewastejournal.com/from-electronic-waste-to-modern-furniture/

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57368394-1/e-waste-recycled-to-make-geeky-decor/

Sometimes, recycling comes in unusual, even artistic forms. Chilean sculptor Rodrigo Alonso has come up with a unique way to re-use electronic waste, even when that waste doesn’t exactly plug in and boot up anymore. His solution?

Furniture. He’s calling it N+ew for No More Electronic Waste. He’s taking old e-waste and turning it into cube-shaped ottomans. His process is simple and produces some elegant pieces – every one of which is unique.

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This past week the GSA issued a landmark bulletin under FMR B-34 entitled Disposal of Federal Electronic Assets (FEA).  Although most of the discussion is on the environmental aspects, there has not been much talk of how this will impact procurement; however the after affects will be significant.  The bulletin references the October 5, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order #13514, which mandates federal leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance with emphasis on green initiatives.

For those of us who have been providing Federal Agencies asset exchange/sale authority (FMR 102.39) services in IT for years, while also holding the proper environmental R2 and pending E-Stewards certifications, this is to be commended.  The roadblock for agencies has been instituting the process and getting approval from senior management.  Many simply could not see the value in making a change from their historical process.

 

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