Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and disposal have many challenges. Proper disposal of e-waste is expensive and contains many toxins. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste is growing quickly and makes up about 5% of municipal waste. It contains billions of pounds of hazardous materials which are harmful to human beings and the environment if not disposed of properly. Thrown into landfills, these substances can leak and pollute groundwater. The population of Salt Lake County, as reflected in the 2010 Census, is 1,029,655. The Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD) primary target audience for e-waste collections is anyone within the County who has electronic waste. Demographics of Salt Lake County indicate that of the 1,029,655 residents, 63% are 18-64 years of age. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has conducted studies that show the average age of the electronics consumer is between 25 and 50. Therefore, a large portion of Salt Lake County’s population falls within the age group that is consuming electronic devices. This information is useful in preparing educational materials so that the materials are geared towards the largest segment of the population that is buying and therefore throwing away electronic components. SLVHD became involved with how best to dispose of growing e-waste in Salt Lake County because of the Department’s existing household hazardous waste (HHW) program. In 2008, SLVHD was able to include e-waste into their HHW program on a limited basis.
Salt Lake County Health Department
Parnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling
Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling and disposal have many challenges. Proper disposal of e-waste is expensive and contains many toxins. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), e-waste is growing quickly and makes up about 5% of municipal waste. It contains billions of pounds of hazardous materials which are harmful to human beings and the environment if not disposed of properly. Thrown into landfills, these substances can leak and pollute groundwater. The population of Salt Lake County, as reflected in the 2010 Census, is 1,029,655. The Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD) primary target audience for e-waste collections is anyone within the County who has electronic waste. Demographics of Salt Lake County indicate that of the 1,029,655 residents, 63% are 18-64 years of age. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has conducted studies that show the average age of the electronics consumer is between 25 and 50. Therefore, a large portion of Salt Lake County’s population falls within the age group that is consuming electronic devices.
This information is useful in preparing educational materials so that the materials are geared towards the largest segment of the population that is buying and therefore throwing away electronic components. SLVHD became involved with how best to dispose of growing e-waste in Salt Lake County because of the Department’s existing household hazardous waste (HHW) program. In 2008, SLVHD was able to include e-waste into their HHW program on a limited basis. As a result of the growing National debate concerning e-waste, the 2009 State Legislature passed a resolution requiring the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to study e-waste in Utah. A steering committee was formed as a result of this resolution. After studying e-waste, the committee drafted a proposal which recommended that Utah follow the Product Stewardship model of legislation that had successfully passed in 23 other States. In this approach, manufacturers are mandated to pay the cost to recycle the electronic devices they make relieving state and local agencies from this burden. The proposal was drafted into Legislation and introduced to the 2010 Utah Legislature. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the House but drew increasing opposition from the manufacturers and thereby never was introduced into the Senate.
In 2011, a revised addition of the bill was introduced but failed in committee. Manufacturers lobbied that they would pay to recycle e-waste in Utah and did not need to be mandated by Legislation. Manufacturers wanted to form regional partnerships and as such assume the responsibility for all the e-waste generated, not just their own brands. Because of SLVHD’s involvement in the Legislation, Salt Lake County was the first locale approached to form a partnership. In late 2010, Samsung developed a Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling with SLVHD and has paid for all e-waste recycling since. Samsung approached SLVHD even before the proposed Legislation failed. SLVHD continued to work towards the Legislation, even with Samsung’s involvement, as there was concern over their continued commitment. In the end, the Legislation did not pass but the partnership has flourished.
The Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling that SLVHD has with Samsung has evolved as SLVHD has worked to address a growing public health concern. The goals of this partnership are to:
1. Divert e-waste from the landfill in order to protect against potential public and environmental concerns and conserve landfill space. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Increase number and convenience of free collection points for Salt Lake County residents.
Educate the public on the importance of recycling.
2. Responsibly recycle the e-waste that is diverted from landfills. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Institute controls in the partnership which only allow e-scrap to be recycled by reputable companies.
Educate local leaders and the public to what happens when e-waste is not recycled responsibly.
3. Remove local and state governments from the responsibility of paying e-waste recycling costs. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Educate local leaders to the cost incurred with e-waste recycling.
Look at ways e-waste recycling has been paid for in other states. c) Develop a way to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste.
These goals are being met through the partnership with Samsung. Since 2010, over 1,000,000 pounds of e-scrap have been diverted from area landfills. Samsung only uses reputable recyclers; which is their company policy but is also outlined contractually. Since 2010, Samsung has paid $223,000 to recycle e-waste in Salt Lake County, an enormous savings to SLVHD.
The public health issues associated with e-waste have been well documented by EPA. In fact, EPA regulates the disposal of e-waste by companies because it is considered a hazardous waste stream. The heavy metals such as lead, mercury, beryllium, cadmium, and more than 1,000 different toxic substances, have been linked to neurological diseases, cancer and many other health concerns. E-waste presents public health concerns when not properly recycled as the improper reclamation of the heavy metals can present immediate concerns to individual health and the environment. Recycling of e-waste is expensive because it is labor intensive to reclaim the heavy metals. Unethical recyclers have been found to ship e-waste to third world countries where labor is cheap and environmental laws do not exist. It has been documented that people in these third world countries have been reclaiming the heavy metals by manually disassembling and burning the plastics to remove the remaining metals. Removing e-waste from area landfills removes the potential for these heavy metals to leach and contaminate groundwater. Diverting e-waste to recycling also encourages the reuse of the heavy metals they contain which saves money and resources. The Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling that SLVHD developed with Samsung ensures that the recovered e-waste is properly recycled. The partnership with Samsung will contractually require that the recyclers used by Samsung meet certain industry standards.
The proper disposal of e-waste is relevant to all areas where populations utilize electronics. This is a growing issue primarily because electronics are the fastest growing waste stream. New devices are constantly being made making last year’s models obsolete. Most devices are not built to last as they were in decades past. CEA estimates that Americans now own approximately 24 electronic products per household. EPA worked to create National legislation which would regulate the disposal of e-waste and encourage its diversion from landfills. National legislation has not been successful. States felt that they could handle this issue more appropriately as each state is unique and what works in one state may not work in another. How e-waste should be handled in Utah was addressed at the mandate of the 2008 Legislature with a Joint Resolution which required that a steering committee be formed to study and develop a proposal for how e-waste should be addressed in Utah. The steering committee consisted of representatives from Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), local government, electronic manufacturers and retailers. SLVHD worked to educate the County Council, local legislators, media, the public, and city mayors on the importance of addressing Salt Lake County’s e-waste issue. The e-waste issue in Salt Lake County was unique in that SLVHD did not have to educate the public in the need for proper electronic disposal. The informed public started calling and asking for proper disposal outlets. National media attention surrounding e-waste and its proper disposal provided the impetus to move this issue to the forefront in Salt Lake County. In order to be able to include e-waste in SLVHD’s HHW program, it was necessary to increase the fees that fund the program. In the process of increasing this fee, SLVHD made countless presentations to landfill councils, city and county councils, SLVHD’s Board of Health and Environmental Quality Advisory Committee and other individual community councils. In 2009, the fee increase successfully passed because of the communities’ support for including e-waste in the HHW program.
The Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling for e-waste collection and disposal resulted from many years of looking for a way to address the growing flow of e-waste in Utah. At the time Utah was taking steps to address this issue, many states had already implemented legislation which mandated manufacturers pay the cost to recycle their products. The legislation that passed in 23 states followed a Product Stewardship model which requires that manufacturers be stewards of the products they make and be responsible for their proper disposal. The partnership model that SLVHD has established with Samsung resulted after Legislation was not successful in Utah. Manufacturers wanted to develop partnerships with regions in Utah, where all electronic waste in these regions would be handled by one manufacturer. Manufacturers wanted to develop a solution in Utah that had not been done in any other state and use this as an example of how e-waste could be handled. The resulting partnership that was developed between SLVHD and Samsung addresses the issues that were initially targeted. The growing flow of e-waste is being collected at four permanent locations within Salt Lake County. Collection of electronics is also available at one-day collection events held throughout the year. The effort to recover the e-waste is working towards diminishing the disposal of this waste stream in area landfills thereby conserving space, recovering valuable metals, and reducing the likelihood of future health and environmental concerns. The partnership also relieves SLVHD from the financial burden of paying to have collected e-waste recycled.
The determination that the Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling developed with Samsung was new to the field of public health was confirmed as SLVHD and other agencies researched how Utah should deal with e-waste. Two predominant solutions found nationally were the Product Stewardship and Advanced Fee models. The Product Stewardship model was implemented as legislation in 23 states; the Advanced Fee model was exclusively implemented in California. After years of studying the e-waste issue and reviewing what was done in other states, legislation which followed the Product Stewardship model was proposed. Product Stewardship legislation was the goal; the partnership program was lobbied for by the manufacturing industry as an alternative to mandating legislation. CEA, which represents a large portion of electronic manufacturers, outlined the partnership program and presented it as an alternative to legislation. The partnership program would divide Utah into regions and then each region would be assigned to different manufacturers. A manufacturer would be responsible for all e-waste generated in their region, not just their product.
In the process of working towards legislation, SLVHD was approached by Samsung in 2010 to develop a partnership. Samsung felt it was important to develop a relationship with SLVHD even before it was determined whether legislation would be successful. SLVHD’s Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling with Samsung differs from other approaches in that there is no legislation binding the electronic manufacturer. SLVHD’s partnership with Samsung is voluntary. Therefore, it requires initiative to develop and sustain these partnerships as there is not legislation which mandates it. Other States have legislation to meet the same end result and goals, but SLVHD has had to find inventive ways to get to that end result. SLVHD is committed to ensuring that all regions of the State are aligned with manufacturers and that the resulting partnerships have the same level of involvement that SLVHD has with Samsung. Our partnership is dynamic in that Samsung relies on SLVHD to communicate the changing needs of the community and coordinate drop-off locations and collection events. Samsung in turn communicates their allowable resources and company goals.
Samsung, other national manufacturers of electronics
local e-waste recycling companies
drinking water systems within the County
landfill operators/public works department
State officials and Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Role of Stakeholders/Partners
The role of the stakeholders and partners in the planning and implementation of the partnership practice varied depending on the partner. Local water systems want to maintain clean water to residents without adding costs of service, so they were very involved with education as well as helping set up the community collection events to make e-waste recycling convenient for residents. Municipal leaders want to maintain low cost trash service to residents and extend the life of landfills so they had an interest in diverting waste from the landfills. To meet this goal, they worked with SLVHD to provide locations and dumpsters for community collection events, again with convenience being a shared goal. If local municipalities had not offered land, advertising, and dumpsters for these numerous community collection events, it would have been more costly for SLVHD to sponsor these events.
The Samsung partnership came about as a result of years of work to address electronic waste (e-waste) in the state of Utah. The Salt Lake Valley Health Department (SLVHD), along with many other agencies in Utah, reviewed how e-waste was managed in other states and determined what would work best in Utah. Legislation which followed the Product Stewardship model was proposed twice, once in 2010 and then again in 2011. The Legislation was not successful largely because manufacturers did not want legislation which mandated their involvement. As an alternative, the Consumer Electronic Association (CEA), which represents the majority of electronic manufacturers in the Nation, proposed developing partnerships to address the e-waste issue. In these partnerships, manufacturers through the help of CEA would align themselves with areas and collect all e-waste generated, not just their products. CEA designated themselves as the intermediary in the negotiations of aligning manufacturers with areas in need of e-waste collection.
SLVHD’s role in this practice was to facilitate discussion with all stakeholders in order to increase awareness to the issues surrounding e-waste so ultimately a disposal mechanism would be developed. SLVHD took the lead on education and stakeholder discussions because SLVHD would be the agency to work face to face with the community residents, collect the waste, contract with a responsible recycling company, and work with a national electronic manufacturer. All of these components place SLVHD in the center of this growing issue.
The SLVHD was approached by Samsung in late 2010 to pay for all e-waste collected through their program. CEA was not involved in the partnership that developed between SLVHD and Samsung largely because of relationships that had developed between these two organizations as a result of SLVHD involvement with the legislation. Samsung also agreed to pay retrospectively for all e-waste recycling that occurred in 2010. Samsung paid for all collections in 2011 and is still currently paying. The partnership has been successful and Samsung has been willing to pay for additional collection points as well as several community collection events, saving the SLVHD an estimated $130,000 per year in e-waste recycling costs. Samsung pays for all e-waste recycling, no matter who the manufacturer is. Samsung has also been great to communicate with the SLVHD concerning additional collection events and permanent collection points.
In understanding this partnership and looking to model this in other areas it is important to note that our Department does continue to provide an important role in the collection and management of e-waste. The SLVHD coordinates or provides the locations and labor for where the e-waste is collected. Our Department also has to review and ensure that the recycler used by Samsung is managing the collected e-waste in a responsible manner. Samsung pays all the recycling costs associated with e-waste collection but does not cover the labor costs associated with the collection and management of the waste before it is taken for recycling. In order to implement this partnership in other areas it would be necessary to work through CEA as they have designated themselves as the intermediary between the manufacturers and the areas wanting e-waste collection.
SLVHD plans to work with CEA in the coming year to ensure that all areas of Utah are developing partnerships with manufacturers so that e-waste can be addressed throughout the state. In order for the partnership idea to be successful it is incumbent upon the areas wanting e-waste collection to work through CEA and ultimately a recycler to ensure that there are convenient opportunities for proper e-waste disposal. The recycling rates for e-waste in states that have legislation which mandate manufacturer’s involvement have been very high. It is important that the same rate of recycling is met in States that have the partnership model as the goal is the same; reduce the amount of e-waste going to landfills because of the space and environmental issues they pose. The partnership model is new and will therefore require work on both sides to ensure that it is successful. SLVHD is optimistic about the success of this partnership and will work diligently with Samsung to see more and more collection opportunities in the Salt Lake Valley and CEA to see more collection opportunities throughout the state.
SLVHD has worked to foster collaboration with these community stakeholders in several ways. SLVHD knows the importance of these relationships and is constantly working to improve trust and communication in the process of addressing e-waste recycling. SLVHD, while giving television interviews, will thank the municipal leaders for contributions made, thus informing the residents that municipal leaders are active in e-waste recycling activities. Thank you letters are sent to municipal leaders, public works directors, and city mayors where collection events are held. Another communication tool is sending collection data to the stakeholders, in terms of amount of waste collected and amount of waste diverted from the landfill.
One lesson learned in developing the collaborations is everyone has a budget to work with. With all stakeholders discussing goals, needs, and limitations, all players can bring a tool to the discussion and together a common goal can be met without any one stakeholder carrying the burden. For example, municipalities have provided land to hold the community collection events, while SLVHD has provided the manpower at the collection events, and water systems have assisted in education both with print media and on the Web. A second lesson learned is how to create a convenient e-waste collection system that is fair to all counties in Utah and all national electronic manufacturers. Currently, the level of e-waste collection is not equal in all counties nor are all electronic manufacturers carrying the burden equally. These are issues SLVHD hopes to educate and develop with other counties over the next year. SLVHD has been touring other counties’ collection sites and has begun conversations with other counties’ health departments. The most difficult lesson learned by SLVHD in the process of addressing the e-waste issue was that the definition of success could be changed as long as the goals were accomplished. SLVHD thought the e-waste issue would be successfully addressed only if legislation was passed. In fact, SLVHD learned that the goal of diverting e-waste from landfills and involving manufacturers in recycling can and is being accomplished through a partnership.
The tasks taken to achieve the goal of diverting e-waste from landfills in order to protect against public and environmental concerns and conserve landfill space started with one-day collection events. SLVHD, along with other agencies, started offering one-day e-waste collection events. SLVHD worked to find funding mechanisms to allow for permanent collection. SLVHD successfully increased funding to include in HHW program. Initially, e-waste was only accepted at one permanent HHW site but slowly expanded to four permanent locations and 14 community collection events. Each year, SLVHD looks for ways to educate the public about the importance of e-waste recycling in order to deter landfill disposal. Disposal numbers indicate that each year more e-waste is collected which is a direct result of SLVHD’s educational efforts and the increased number of collection opportunities. The tasks taken to achieve the goal of responsibly recycling the e-waste that is diverted from landfills started with SLVHD’s use of a state contract that placed mandates on e-waste recyclers. Initially, there were no guidelines for how e-waste should be handled. At the request of SLVHD, along with other agencies, DEQ developed a contract for e-waste recyclers that outlined how the collected materials had to be handled. SLVHD worked to educate the public and local leaders to the necessity of properly handling collected e-waste. Media has contributed to the public’s awareness and thereby demand for ethical e-waste recycling. The contract that is being developed with Samsung will contractually outline how collected e-waste must be recycled. The tasks taken to achieve the goal to remove local and state governments from the responsibility of paying e-waste recycling costs started with SLVHD’s involvement in the one-day collection events. Information from these events was used to illustrate the volume of e-waste waiting for proper disposal and the associated recycling costs. With information about how much recycling would cost local governments, SLVHD started looking at other funding mechanisms. SLVHD, along with other agencies, proposed legislation which would relieve government from the recycling costs. The partnership with Samsung resulted from SLVHD’s work to remove government from responsibility of paying to recycle e-waste.
The steps taken to achieve the goal of diverting e-waste from landfills in order to protect against public and environmental concerns and conserve landfill space have taken place over a decade as the issue has evolved. Initially e-waste was not considered a hazardous waste and was landfilled. As EPA identified e-waste as hazardous, efforts have been made to deter them from landfills. SLVHD, in their partnership with Samsung, will continually look for ways to increase the amount of e-waste that is landfilled. The steps taken to achieve the goal of responsibly recycling the e-waste that is diverted from landfills have also taken place over the last decade. Initially, there were no concerns with how e-waste was recycled. However, as stories started surfacing about the unethical ways that some e-waste was being recycled, agencies involved in collection events started looking at ways to implement measures which would control how and where collected e-waste was recycled. The steps taken to achieve the goal to remove local and state governments from the responsibility of paying e-waste recycling costs also took place over the last decade. Initially with the one-day collection events, SLVHD approached local manufacturers to cover the recycling costs but were unsuccessful. As the public wanted more options for proper e-waste recycling, SLVHD with other agencies looked to other successful funding mechanisms. Legislation was developed and proposed over a span of three years. The partnership that has resulted has been in place for over a year.
Process & Outcome
SLVHD’s innovative practice of developing a partnership with Samsung to address our County’s homeowner e-waste issue had three primary goals each with clear objectives.
Divert e-waste from landfills in order to protect against potential public and environmental concerns and conserve landfill space. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Increase number and convenience of free collection points for Salt Lake County residents and measure e-waste collected at these sites.
Educate the public and local leaders to the importance of recycling.
Responsibly recycle the e-waste that is diverted from landfills. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Institute controls in the partnership which only allow e-scrap to be recycled by reputable companies.
Educate local leaders and the public to what happens when e-waste is not recycled responsibly
Remove local and state governments from the responsibility of paying e-waste recycling costs. The objectives to meet this goal are:
Educate local leaders to the cost incurred with e-waste recycling.
Look at ways e-waste recycling has been paid for in other states.
Develop a way to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste.
The three primary objectives that were necessary to accomplish in obtaining our goals were:
Educate the public and local leaders to the importance of e-waste recycling.
Increase the number and convenience of free collection points for Salt Lake County residents and measure e-waste collected at these sites.
Develop a way to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste.
Objective 1: The process evaluation measure used to establish whether SLVHD is accomplishing the objective of educating the public and local leaders to the importance of e-waste recycling is program outputs and program outcomes. The program outputs that are evaluated monthly are the number of informational flyers disseminated, educational fairs attended, presentations made and advertisements placed. This information is reviewed by SLVHD staff and administrators and compared annually to insure that continual efforts are made in education. SLVHD views the amount of e-waste collected as a direct correlation to public education. The more the public is educated about the importance of e-waste recycling, the more e-waste is collected. SLVHD has found that the amount of e-waste collected at one-day events or the permanent collection sites dramatically increases after there is information in the newspaper or television about the importance of e-waste recycling. A qualitative measure used in evaluating whether SLVHD was educating the public and local leaders about e-waste recycling was the use of surveys. SLVHD has had participants complete surveys at collection events in order to determine how they found out about the events, in order to determine the best educational tool. Surveys have found that television is the best educational tool, followed by newspaper, radio and then word of mouth. Because of this information, SLVHD annually pays to advertise information about e-waste recycling in the newspaper and radio. In order to attract television attention, SLVHD annually holds a press conference at a one-day event where local politicians speak about the importance of e-waste recycling. In order to affectively address e-waste in Salt Lake County, it was necessary for SLVHD to educate local leaders to the importance of recycling in order to accomplish our goal of e-waste landfill diversion.
Changes in policies and regulations were used as an outcome measure in determining whether the objective of educating local leaders about the importance of e-waste recycling was accomplished. Regulations and policies needed to be changed to allow SLVHD to collect e-waste. In order to change regulations and policies it was necessary to change local leader’s knowledge and attitude about e-waste recycling. SLVHD closely tracked the amount and type of education that was provided to local leaders in the process of trying to change regulations and policies to allow for e-waste recycling. SLVHD had to increase a funding source in order to accept and recycle e-waste through their HHW program. To increase the funding source, SLVHD had to make a regulation change which required approval from Department and County leaders. SLVHD was successful in the regulation change which allowed for the fee increase to support e-waste recycling in Salt Lake County. This fee increase was successful because of the education that was provided to local leaders about the importance of e-waste recycling. SLVHD was able to increase local leader’s knowledge about e-waste and why it was important to recycle thus allowing for a change in attitude which facilitated the change in regulation. Through this process SLVHD has learned that education is crucial in order to affect change. Furthermore, the educational process has to be sustained and not abandoned once the desired outcome has been achieved. In order to maintain awareness to the importance of recycling e-waste, SLVHD will continue with their educational efforts. SLVHD continually looks for tools to attract media attention to e-scrap in order to keep the issue in the news. Annual press conferences are held and special events are held on Earth Day and America Recycles Day. We continue to pay for newspaper advertising, distribute information at educational fairs and present information to local leaders.
Objective 2: The process evaluation measure used to establish whether the objective of increasing the number and convenience of free collection points for residents is being accomplished is program outputs. SLVHD compared the number of collection points that were available to the public in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. In looking at these numbers, SLVHD also looked at the amount of e-waste collected during these years in order to determine if the increase in number of collection outlets was helping accomplish our goal of increasing the diversion of e-waste from landfills. In 2008, there was one permanent site that accepted e-waste from residents. The site opened in August of 2008 and collected 119,000 pounds of e-waste. In 2009, there were two permanent sites that accepted e-waste and two community collection events. The collection events are conveniently located to the population, unlike the permanent sites which are located at landfills which are further away. The collection events are held on Thursdays and run from 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. In 2009, these sites collected 512,000 pounds of e-waste which was a 313% increase from 2008. In looking at these data, SLVHD considered that the 2009 sites were available all year, unlike in 2008 when the collection opportunities started in August. In 2010, there were two permanent collection sites and 4 community collection events. These sites collected 715,000 pounds of e-waste, which was a 39% increase from 2009. In 2011 there are 4 permanent collection sites and there have been 14 community collection events. The data from 2011 will be compared to 2010 at the end of the year. The data that were collected and evaluated clearly demonstrates that as more convenient collection outlets are developed, more e-waste will be collected. The results of these analyses, that are done annually, are presented through an annual report to local leaders, public and Samsung.
SLVHD used the collected data when testifying to the Utah Legislature about the amount and cost of e-waste in Salt Lake County. SLVHD was the first to develop a permanent program for the collection of e-waste. Therefore, the information collected by SLVHD was useful in demonstrating how much e-waste will be collected through a permanent program that provides convenient drop-off locations. SLVHD works each year to increase the number and convenience of drop-off locations in order to deter e-waste from landfill disposal. SLVHD measures their success in accomplishing this goal by monitoring what percentage of the e-waste stream is being diverted. In Salt Lake County, using EPA’s projection that e-waste makes up 5% of our municipal waste, an estimated 80,360,733 pounds of e-waste was generated in 2010. Of this amount, SLVHD collected and diverted 715,000 pounds, or less than 1%, of the potential amount of e-waste that went to area landfills. In evaluating and determining whether the Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling is affectively addressing the goal of diverting e-waste from landfills, SLVHD reviews the amount of e-waste that is diverted in states that have legislation. In this review, SLVHD has found that states with legislation have significantly higher diversion rates of e-waste than Salt Lake County is experiencing through their partnership with Samsung. However, the e-waste diversion rates in states with legislation did start out low and then grew as the public became more educated. In reviewing this information, it is important to review why these differences may exist. States with legislation have many more outlets for disposal as the number of drop-offs is dictated by law and based on population. SLVHD will continue to work with Samsung in increasing the number of collection sites that are available in Salt Lake County, in order to work towards accomplishing the goal of higher diversion rates.
Objective 3: The process evaluation measure used to establish whether SLVHD is accomplishing the objective of developing a way to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste is program outcomes. SLVHD spent many years laying the groundwork which would facilitate achieving the objective of developing a way to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste. The public and local officials initially had to be educated about what e-waste was, hazards associated with landfill disposal and costs associated with proper recycling. The partnership with Samsung resulted from inability to change state policy in the form of legislation but would not have come to fruition without change in knowledge and attitude. The Utah Legislature seriously considered legislation because their knowledge and attitudes about e-waste changed through education. Legislators decided that they would allow manufacturers to voluntarily pay to recycle e-waste rather than be mandated. The partnership that SLVHD has with Samsung is a direct result of efforts made to change knowledge and attitude concerning e-waste. In evaluating this process, SLVHD learned that throughout the process it was important to maintain focus on the overall objective and not necessarily the manner in which the objective was achieved. Initially, SLVHD felt this objective could only be achieved through legislation, but ultimately had to be open to another mechanism. SLVHD will evaluate how well this objective is being accomplished in relationship to how much e-waste is being diverted from landfill disposal. If the partnership that was developed with Samsung does not adequately deter e-waste from landfill disposal, then another mechanism to have electronic manufacturers pay to recycle e-waste may need to be explored.
Currently, there is sufficient stakeholder commitment to sustain the Partnership in Responsible Electronic Recycling with Samsung. The commitment is ensured mainly because the public wants recycling; manufacturers and municipal leaders know this and want to make it convenient for the public. Municipalities currently not participating in the free community collection events now want to be involved due to popularity and resident feedback. All stakeholders are communicating and each stakeholder sees a need fulfilled. Municipal leaders are involved and want the service for their residents. The national electronic manufacturer that pays for all the recycling costs, Samsung, sees a benefit from positive free word of mouth advertising as well as their name mentioned in the press about being associated with responsible e-waste recycling. SLVHD worked hard to establish legislation because it would have mandated involvement from manufacturers in paying the costs to properly dispose of e-waste. The partnership program that was lobbied for by the manufacturers is voluntary which was of concern to SLVHD. In the discussions surrounding the voluntary partnership program manufacturers adamantly argued that each manufacturer would voluntarily be involved because the industry as a whole had decided this was the approach they wanted. Neglect to develop and sustain partnerships to address e-waste would impact their ability to inhibit mandating legislation in the future. Samsung has expressed their commitment to continue with SLVHD partnership as they fully support the assignment of regions to manufacturers. In order to provide more commitment from Samsung, SLVHD is working to establish a contract which will outline each partner’s responsibilities.
SLVHD believes an important component to sustaining the partnership with Samsung is to work towards ensuring that other partnerships are established within the State so that other manufacturers become involved. SLVHD believes that the partnerships developed need to be to the same level that currently exists in Salt Lake County. If Samsung is taking other manufacturer’s products in the Salt Lake Valley but other manufacturers are not taking their products in other regions of the state, how long will Samsung be willing to sustain this process? It is important to continue to educate local and state leaders about e-waste; how much e-waste is generated, why it is a problem and the costs associated with proper disposal. It is also important to sustain the relationships that were developed on the steering committee that studied e-waste so that everyone remains current on what is being done throughout the state to address e-waste disposal. This partnership is dynamic and needs to be continually evaluated and changed to meet the evolving needs of the community. In order for this partnership to be sustainable it is important that SLVHD continues to stay current on the e-waste issue and communicates this to their political leaders and the community. Listening to Samsung, recognizing their efforts, and educating the public about their role are also important to maintain the partnership into the future. A partnership works only if all involved bring something to the relationship and listen to each other’s needs, wants, strengths, and weaknesses. Only then will the goal of Partnerships in Responsible Electronic Recycling be effective for the good of the community and environment.