By Veena Clay December 8, 2014

Manufacturers are in the spotlight when it comes to recycling in America. That is because in most states with recycling laws on the books, it is the manufacturers that must shoulder the burden of ensuring that the devices they produce are recycled at the end of their life cycle. This means manufacturers play a key role in the grand scheme of e-waste recycling in America.

Not all states rely on manufacturers for recycling efficiency. Some states impose a recycling fee to ensure that the costs of recycling electronic devices are covered. States like California rely on such fees to help keep the costs of recycling low so that it is easier to reap the benefits of recycling for communities and families.

In states that do rely on manufacturers for recycling, however, each electronics producer must be aware of the issues surrounding the e-waste recycling industry. In order to properly address the current situation of increasing e-waste proliferation, manufacturers must stay well informed on the e-cycling issues that will affect them.

E-cycling laws and regulations

E-cycling laws and regulations are perhaps the most important aspect of the e-waste issue in this country. Sometimes special rules can apply for manufacturers.

For instance, in Texas manufacturers are required to register with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Manufacturers are also required to provided a recycling program for computers sold for personal or home-business use.

In Hawaii, e-waste laws require manufacturers to register with a state agency and to pay $5,000 for computers, printers and monitors and $2,500 for televisions in annual registration fees. They are also required to run recycling programs and provide recycling options to consumers and retailers.

In Oregon, manufacturers have options. They can either submit a recycling plan for e-waste to state agencies or elect to pay a fee. However, all manufacturers of electronic devices must register their brands with the Department of Environmental Quality and pay a registration fee.

Each state requires manufacturers to work in various ways on behalf of those who choose to recycle. Because there is still no national mandate for e-waste recycling, state law serves as the chief authority governing the actions of manufacturers concerning e-waste collection and recycling.

Keeping abreast beyond states programs

Beyond the state recycling programs and regulations, more opportunities exist than ever before for manufacturers to shape and hone their approach to e-waste recycling.

For example, the Sustainable Materials Management Challenge is an independently run program calling on manufacturers to become more effective e-cyclers. The requirements for the program aim to increase the amounts of electronic waste collected and sent for recycling, to shoot for a goal of 100% recycling of these devices, and to collect and report data to SMM challenge headquarters on a continual basis.

Another excellent example of beyond the state programs is the Green Electronics Council’s EPEAT registration program. Taking the time to register electronics like televisions, computers and mobile phones with EPEAT is one way that manufacturers are showing dedication and commitment to better recycling efforts.

Collection events coordinated with recycling centers

One of the best ways to comply with state laws and other regulations concerning e-waste is to host a collection event. The amount of work such endeavors can involve may inconvenience manufacturers. However, holding collection events in partnership with a certified recycling center can lead to major success.

While some may believe that recycling centers offer only recycling services, many of today’s centers also schedule and coordinate collections events in connection with manufacturers as well. Most centers are capable of assisting manufacturers with large numbers of electronic devices through recycling center-led collection events and safe and efficient e-waste processing.

Mailback programs in concert with recycling centers

Another practice that can be held in partnership with a recycling center is a solid mailback program. Here, recycling centers can provide manufacturers with shipping labels for the proper disposal of electronic devices sold under the manufacturer’s brand name. This way each electronic device has a greater chances of finding its way back to the recycling center even after a number of sales.

Choosing a reliable recycling center

Maintaining a healthy relationship with a reliable recycling center is key for manufacturers. Recycling centers can often do the legwork needed in order for manufacturers to meet legal requirements and safety procedures. This means that manufacturers must locate and identify recycling centers that are the best at recycling e-waste in an effective manner.

To that end, manufacturers have several factors to look out for. Well-networked recycling centers with convenient nationwide drop-off locations may be appealing to large manufacturers with nationwide distributions. Advanced technology at a recycling center will ensure that more of a manufacturer’s portfolio of electronic products can be recycled all in one place. Digital solutions at a recycling center guarantee that manufacturers can easily track and manage the recycling process.

Additionally, certification may also be a key attractant for manufacturers. Certified recycling centers can offer peace of mind that all electronic products recycled will undergo rigorous scrutiny before being approved. This decreases the chance of violating laws and regulations, especially those involving data security.

E-cycling for manufacturers

For manufactures of electronic devices, e-cycling has become just as much of a key component for production as marketing and advertising or any other essential aspect of the industry.

This is because many states with laws addressing e-waste place responsibility on the manufacturer to certify that each device produced is eventually recycled or disposed in a responsible manner. Manufacturers must stay abreast of current trends in recycling as well as establish and maintain a healthy working relationship with a reliable electronic recycling service in order to thrive and survive in today’s marketplace.