California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Electronic Waste Management

The Future of Electronic Waste Management in California

CalRecycle is embarking on a long term project to evaluate options for the future management of electronic waste (e-waste) in California. It has been over a dozen years since the passage of SB 20, the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (Act), and much has been achieved through the efforts of authorized collectors and recyclers, local governments, and other stakeholder groups. However, as we reflect on the successes of the past we necessarily must consider whether the current approaches to e-waste management will be as effective in the future.

The covered electronic waste (CEW) recycling program, a key feature of the Act, addresses only certain video display devices. Supported by a consumer fee, the state-administered payment system has fostered a robust material collection and processing infrastructure. By definition, however, the program finances the management of only a portion of the larger e-waste stream. Increasingly complex technologies are being discarded, often with less intrinsic material value, which are more difficult to dismantle and contain components requiring special handling. Meanwhile, global economics are disrupting commodity markets and necessary environmental regulations present challenges to industry compliance.

Without a doubt, California’s initial approach to the management of e-waste has been a success. The amount of CEW collected, processed in-state, and claimed for recovery and recycling payment is substantial, Revised February 2017). This has been accomplished on a foundation of the most comprehensive environmental rules in the United States. As we begin this forward-looking project it is with an awareness of past successes and set-backs, as well as the experiments of other states with differing approaches that deserve evaluation. We intend to take an honest look at where we and others have been, what has worked and what hasn’t, and what will be necessary for success in the future.

We encourage your participation.

Project Elements

Resources For Participants

  • Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC)
    The ERCC is a forum for coordination and information exchange among the state/local agencies that are implementing electronics recycling laws and all impacted stakeholders. Of particular interest are the maps depicting states with electronic waste legislation, covered entities and covered devices by state, and the section on “State Law Data”.
  • CalRecycle’s Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) webpage contains an EPR checklist that provides a description of the key attributes that should be considered and addressed in any EPR legislation.
  • Electronics EPR: A Case Study of State Programs in the U.S.
    This report published by the Product Stewardship Council in July 2014 provides an overview of the 25 state programs that have passed legislation relating to electronic waste recycling. 23 of the states are implementing some type of an EPR approach. The report specifically examines how the various state programs address 14 key elements of an e-waste recycling program.
  • Elements of a Stable Electronics EPR Bill
    This document published by the Product Stewardship Council in November 2015 provides a menu of legislative options for state and local officials to use to develop extended producer responsibility (EPR) bills to better manage used electronics. This menu was developed by PSI and a working group of state and local government officials who coordinate used electronics recycling programs.
  • OECD policy guidance on resource efficiency
    This was published in response to a request from the G7 Toyama Environment Ministers Meeting in May 2016. Provides a brief overview of general policies (not product specific) to increase resource efficiency along the entire lifecycle of products.
  • Current Covered Electronic Waste Program
    The consumer fee and state-administer payment system established by the Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003.
  • Covered Electronic Waste Recycling Statistics, Revised February 2017)
  • Department of Toxic Substances Control--Electronic Waste
    Overview of how the physical management hazardous electronic waste is regulated in California.

Comments or Questions?

Last updated: November 15, 2017
Electronic Discards
Contact: (916) 341-6269