Highly Recommended: The Electronics Recycling Landscape Report

Jun 13, 2016 12:00 PM ET

I’ve been focused on electronics at end of life since 2008, when I did the research for Green IT For Dummies.In the past eight years, the growth in electronic waste has exploded, making it the fastest-growing waste stream in the world. Meanwhile, electronics keep getting smaller, more complex and more difficult to handle from a materials reclamation perspective.

Carole Mars and Christopher Nafe, The Sustainability Consortium and Arizona State University, and Jason Linnell, National Center for Electronics Recycling, prepared The Electronics Recycling Landscape Report for the Closed Loop Foundation. I consider this a must-read for anyone interested in getting at the spectrum of issues that make electronic waste significantly more challenging than other kinds of waste we encounter every day.

The report focuses on the U.S. consumer electronics market and the estimated 455 million tons of devices collected in 2015. However, the thorough explorations of the:

  • Environmental implications
  • Geo-political aspects
  • Data security risks posed by the personally identifiable information
  • Nuances of commodity values and recycling business models
  • Implications of shifts of materials used

and, most especially, the forecasts of what to expect as new technologies find their way into the waste stream, make it completely relevant to business electronics. Collection issues apart, all of the other issues apply.

Here at Arrow’s Value Recovery business we are thinking Five Years Out, which is in part why I’m so enthusiastic about this report. Understanding that problematic materials already in the mix will persist for at least another decade, and anticipating the implications of even smaller, even more complicated devices on the horizon, help bring home the severity of the concern.

Congratulations and thank you to the authors for this comprehensive and well-written report. If the report triggers a question or a topic you’d like me to address, drop me a line at cbaroudi@arrow.com.

Carol Baroudi works for Arrow’s Value Recovery business promoting sustainability awareness and action. She is the lead author of Green IT For Dummies. Her particular focus is on electronics in the Circular Economy, with an emphasis on the IT asset disposition stage, e-waste, and everything connected. Follow her on Twitter @carol_baroudi and connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carolbaroudi.