A statewide program to recycle electronic waste has collected 78 million pounds of discarded televisions, computers and monitors in its first two years of operation.
The 2010 collection totaled 39.5 million pounds of electronic waste, up from the 38.5 million pounds retrieved in the first year of the program, according to state Department of Ecology records.
State residents are bringing their unwanted televisions and computers to more than 230 collection sites statewide at a rate of about 5.8 pounds per person, per year.
The E-Cycle Washington program is funded by electronics manufacturers and is designed to steer electronic waste, which contains heavy metals and toxic chemicals, away from landfills and Third World countries with a history of dismantling electronic equipment in ways that threaten the health of workers and the environment.
“Electronics manufacturers have done a great job of providing Washington’s citizens with a no-charge recycling option for electronics,” Ecology director Ted Sturdevant said. “And the public has responded, proving once again that our state’s recycling ethic is one of the best in the country.”
Televisions represent about 61 percent of the electronic waste as consumers continue to swap out their old TVs. More than 64 million flatscreen, digital TVs were purchased in the United States in the past two years.
Computers and monitors have a much shorter life span than TVs, so consumers are updating and replacing these electronics even faster than TVs, according to Ecology officials.
Nearly 1.6 million pounds of electronic waste was recycled last year in Thurston County, which was 3.9 percent of the state total. In Pierce County, recycling totaled 4.46 million pounds, or 11.4 percent of the state total.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444 firstname.lastname@example.org