E-Scrap News

Washington seems to make headway on CRT backlog

Collection numbers for Washington’s e-scrap program could provide a glimmer of hope that CRT device tonnages have plateaued.

E-Cycle Washington, the free, statewide e-scrap recycling program funded by original equipment manufacturers, has hauled in 25.51 million pounds of electronics thus far in 2014, according to the latest monthly report released by the state. That total is 5.1 percent lower than 2013’s January-July collection and, barring any sudden surge in collection, state officials don’t expect 2014 to match or top 2013.

“With five months left in the year it is beginning to appear that 2014 might be the first year that E-Cycle Washington will not exceed the previous year’s total volume,” the document reads. “Stay tuned.”

The vast majority of electronics collected through the program are household televisions, a category dominated by CRTs. Miles Kuntz from the Washington State Department of Ecology said the program, after five years of increasing collection totals, may have finally worked through a significant “backlog” of CRT devices.

“We knew there was a big backlog [of CRT devices] back when we started in 2009,” Kuntz said. “I think we might have gotten through most of that backlog and reached that point where you can’t go up forever. It’s got to plateau at some point and I think we’ve reached that point.”

While year-to-year program fluctuations are common among e-scrap programs throughout the country, the Washington data could be a signal that the electronics waste stream in the state is beginning to evolve. Since the program started in 2009, collection totals have increased each year. In 2013, more than 45 million pounds of electronics were collected, 3.9 percent above 2012’s total and 18 percent higher than the total collected in the program’s first year.

If collection activity in 2014 continues on its current pace, as the state and Kuntz expect, overall tonnages will end up lower than both 2013 and 2012 levels.

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