Minnesota electronics initiatives

Recycle unwanted electronics

In 1999 and 2000, the state's product stewardship initiative for electronics consisted of two major efforts. Both of these state initiatives involved electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and Minnesota counties and communities working toward joint solutions to managing old electronic products:

The collection and recycling pilot programs that several manufacturers, retailers and recyclers conducted in Minnesota in 2001 built on the relationships, knowledge and experience gained through the task force and the demonstration project.



Minnesota CRT Task Force

The former Office of Environmental Assistance and the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board (SWMCB) of the Metropolitan Counties convened this task force on electronic products containing CRTs. Members included electronics manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, and representatives from local and state government. The task force met seven times from September 1999 to October 2000 to examine management and financing options, and assess various markets for materials from recovered electronic products.

PDF icon Summary report of the activities of the Task Force on Electronics with CRTs (2000)



Electronics Recycling Demonstration Project

PDF icon Recycling Used Electronics - Report on Minnesota’s Demonstration Project (Plug into Recycling)

OEA, Sony Electronics, Panasonic-Matsushita, Waste Management's Asset Recovery Group and the American Plastics Council formed this partnership in 1999 to jointly fund and conduct a statewide electronics collection and recycling project. The project tested a product stewardship framework for managing old consumer electronics.

Plug Into RecyclingThe project's collection phase ran from August through October 1999, and involved 64 collection sites, including two retailers. Collection sites accepted any product with a cord or embedded battery. Over the three-month period, approximately 9000 Minnesota citizens brought in 575 tons of old electronic items for recycling.

The project report compares and evaluates different collection methods and assesses recycling markets for the recovered glass and plastics, as well as providing a detailed breakdown of project costs. The report also includes an analysis of the age and type of collected items.

 


Brand and vintage analysis research: September 2004

DropoffA three-day event for recycling consumer electronics brought in over 36,000 pounds of e-waste; nearly 1200 items from an estimated 300 participants. Analysis of the collected materials provides:

  • Average weight of the televisions, monitors, and CPUs.
  • Percentage of an individual brand collected within the product category.
  • Average age of products collected by category.

The project was funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

PDF icon Overview and vintage analysis

Product detail: PDF icon Televisions   PDF icon Monitors   PDF icon Desktop PCs

 

 
Number
Share by
number
Pounds
Share by
weight
Average
weight
Average
age (years)
TV
237
20.2%
11662
32.3%
49 lbs.
17 (1987)
Monitor
466
39.6%
14254
39.5%
31 lbs.
11 (1993)
Desktop PC
299
25.4%
7727
21.4%
26 lbs.
12 (1992)
Other
72
6.1%
2074
5.7%
29 lbs.
 
Keyboard
85
7.2%
242
0.7%
3 lbs.
 
Notebook PC
17
1.4%
132
0.4%
8 lbs.
 
Total
1176
 
36091
 
 
 

 

old televisionRelated research

PDF icon Hennepin County Consumer Electronics Brand Tally (2005)
This 6-month accounting of 37,800 units collected through the county e-waste recycling program (July-Dec. 2004). During 2004, the county collected an average of 3.4 pounds of electronics per capita (1,917 tons). As an added bonus, the report offers a comparison with the other listed studies.

HTML icon Florida Electronic Product Brand Distribution Project (2004-2006)
Between April 2004 and June 2006, the project team sorted through huge amounts of collected e-waste to determine brand, manufacturer (if different than brand), and year of manufacture for TVs, computer systems, and more. Coordinated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

In 1999, as part of Minnesota's Plug Into Recycling pilot project, a vintage study of 7200 televisions collected showed that 47% were manufactured before 1980. (PDF icon 1999 Vintage Study)


Building on successes

The relationships, knowledge and experience gained through Minnesota's CRT Task Force and the Demonstration Project have led to a variety of projects with manufacturers, retailers, recyclers and local governments.

  • In October 2000, Sony Electronics and Waste Management, Inc. announced the launch of an electronics recycling program in Minnesota. (Press release). Minnesota residents can drop off unwanted Sony-brand products for free recycling at 13 Waste Management sites around the state. Sony's 5-year commitment in Minnesota is the first of its kind in the nation.
  • Sony, Panasonic and Sharp Electronics worked with local electronics recycler Asset Recovery Corporation to sponsor municipal electronics collection events in the summer and fall of 2001. Municipalities held collection events for old electronics, with Asset Recovery Corp. handling the recycling. Sony, Panasonic and Sharp products were accepted free-of-charge from residents, with the recycling costs covered by the manufacturers.
  • Minnesota-based electronics retailer Best Buy has conducted several collection events at selected stores in Minnesota, and kicked off its national collection efforts for old consumer electronics with three collections in Minnesota in summer 2001.

    In 2003, a pair of two-day collection events at their Woodbury store and the Richfield headquarters brought in nearly 70 tons of consumer electronics.

These projects and pilot programs can be seen as interim measures that are providing useful information and experience to help achieve the state's goal of establishing a national electronics collection and recycling program in partnership with the electronics industry. These interim measures do not provide enough collection and recycling service to meet the increasing demand for electronics recycling in Minnesota, nor do they meet the state's criteria for product stewardship.

However, these projects and evolving programs are important steps toward establishing a statewide collection and recycling system for electronics that shares responsibility and costs among the consumers and producers of the products.