E-Waste in Michigan

Electronic waste accounts for 10% of waste in the United States and can harm public health and the environment if not recycled properly. Many states including Michigan have attempted to legislatively control the issue of e-waste with varying levels of success.

In this article, we’ll give you a comprehensive answer to these questions about e-waste issues in Michigan, including:

Current State of E-Waste Issues in Michigan

Michigan addressed the rise in electronic waste by instating the Electronic Waste Takeback Program in 2008. 

This law required that manufacturers selling TVs, computers, and printers  in Michigan must:

  • Instate a takeback program allowing consumers to return electronic waste to the manufacturer for free
  • Include on their website information that informs consumers on how to recycle their used electronics and instructions on how to mail or bring back their electronics to the manufacturer
  • Submit an annual report of the number of electronics received back through the program

Each manufacturer that produces TVs and computers must be registered to the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, a sector of the Michigan government that is responsible for enforcing and monitoring the takeback program.

The goal of the law was that manufacturers would take back and recycle 60% of their sold electronics.

Growing Issues with the E-Waste in Michigan

As of 2013, Michigan had 71 manufacturers registered to the electronic waste takeback program. Of those manufacturers:

  • 34 collected and recycled 10% of equipment sold
  • 10 collected and recycled 90%
  • And 27 companies did not collect any equipment from the takeback program

Only 10 of 71 registered companies met or exceeded the goal of recycling 60% of their sold electronics.

Although the program did increase electronic recycling for the state, most consumers did not take advantage of the program. So millions of pounds of electronics were not recycled and were sent to landfills where they will eventually degrade and leach harmful chemicals into the soil, air, and water.

Even with the 2008 law, the state still severely underperforms in e-waste recycling compared to surrounding states in the midwest.

How Can We Correct E-Waste Shortcomings in Michigan?

Michigan did not meet the target set by the 2008 law. However, there are steps we can take to improve rates of electronics recycling: 

  1. The Michigan government can update and improve the laws
  2. Consumers can take action to prevent e-waste from going to landfills

Let’s see what both of these routes look like.

What can Michigan’s Government Do to Improve E-Waste Issues?

The government of Michigan plans to take the following steps to bolster the program in hopes to increase the rate of electronics recycling in the state:

  • Increase awareness for consumers on the dangers of e-waste
  • Increase the range of the law to cover more devices, not just TVs and computers
  • Instate penalties to manufacturers for non-compliance with the law
  • Use penalty fees to increase funding to the e-waste takeback program

What Can Consumers in Michigan Do to Decrease the Impact of E-Waste?

Consumers also have a responsibility to ensure that their electronic purchases do not end up contributing to e-waste issues in Michigan. Here’s what you can do to decrease the impact of e-waste on public health and the environment:

  • Purchase electronics from manufacturers that are a good reputation for e-waste recycling
  • Attempt to repair electronics before disposing of them
  • Always bring your end-of-life electronics back to the manufacturer from which they were purchased to take advantage of the takeback program

In Conclusion…

  • Michigan attempted to address e-waste issues by instating the Electronic Waste Takeback Program in 2008
  • The takeback program was not entirely successful and Michigan lags behind other states in rates of electronic recycling
  • The government plans to expand the law in hopes to increase the rate of electronic recycling in the state
  • We as consumers should stay informed on e-waste issues, only purchase from manufacturers that participate in the program, and always bring end-of-life electronics back to the manufacturer for recycling

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