Michiganders recycle 11.5 million pounds of electronics in latest takeback cycle

State officials announced its e-waste program resulted in more than 11.5 million pounds of electronics being recycled in the 2020 cycle.

That amounts to 1.1 pounds per Michigan resident, or 20 percent of the average weight of electronic waste U.S. residents typically generate. E-waste includes a myriad of high-tech electronics which often contain oil, glass, iron, gold, aluminum, palladium, platinum, copper, and other critical elements.

It takes centuries for electronics to decompose, which releases heavy metals and other toxic chemicals into the environment. Recycling e-waste instead of sending it to landfills involves sorting and dismantling electronics, then recovering the valuable materials to return to the supply chain which reduces the need for raw materials.

Materials management officials with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy reported its e-waste takeback program recycled 11,567,000 pounds of potentially hazardous electronic waste in 2020.

In 2021, the statewide program included a special effort that garnered more than 225,000 pounds of e-waste from the rural parts of northern Lower Michigan and the Upper Peninsula, plus a single six-hour event in the Bay Mills Indian Community during which more than 32,000 pounds of unwanted electronics were collected.

Complete figures for 2021 are not yet available.

Michigan’s recycling rate is about 18 percent, according to nonprofit Michigan Recycling Coalition. That rate is far below the 34 percent national average.

Among the goals in the draft state climate action plan currently open for public comments is tripling the statewide recycling rate.

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