ISRI Applauds Release of First Comprehensive Study on Used Electronic Products Market
By Mel Fabrikant Thursday, March 14, 2013, 10:36 PM EDT
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), the Voice of the Recycling IndustryTM, applauds the first comprehensive study on the scope of the used electronic products (UEP) market and the destinations of exported UEPs, with the recent release of the United States International Trade Commission’s (ITC) report “Used Electronic Products: An Examination of U.S. Exports.”
Completed at the request of U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Ron Kirk, the report is based on data collected through a nationwide survey of 5,200 refurbishers, recyclers, brokers, information technology asset managers, and other UEP handlers. The report covers the year 2011 and focuses on electronic equipment and component parts of these used products.
The ITC report revealed that in 2011, U.S. collectors and processors reported $20.6 billion in sales of UEPs, of which seven percent ($1.45 billion) were exports. Domestically, refurbished UEPs made up the bulk of sales ($15.0 billion) with commodity-grade scrap produced from the disassembling/recycling of UEPs accounting for $4.3 billion in sales. Exports accounted for $1.0 billion in sales of refurbished UEPs and $439 million recycled. Despite longstanding anecdotal accounts to the contrary, 88 percent of all UEPs exported as repaired/refurbished are sent “tested and working.” Only a small share of U.S. exports, less than one percent (0.8), is sent overseas for disposal.
“Having this credible report from a neutral government entity using a proven survey methodology provides the electronics recycling and refurbishing industry, its many stakeholders, and policymakers with valuable hard data,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI.
The United States is the world’s largest market for electronics, thus generating large quantities of used electronic products each year. These products are collected from both consumers and businesses, evaluated for their value, and then classified as working electronic products and parts to be refurbished and resold, or as non-working goods to be recycled into scrap commodities either in the United States or abroad. Commodity metals, plastics, and glass are used as raw materials in manufacturing processes and circuit boards are sent to smelting facilities to recover gold and other precious metals.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates suggest that only 25 percent of available UEPs in the U.S. are recycled, most still remain in our homes or are sent to landfills. This is despite the fact that the consumer market is the largest market for new electronic products. ISRI believes that increasing the collection of used consumer electronic products presents an untapped opportunity to increase the supply of UEPs into the recycling stream in an environmentally responsible manner.
“The release of this report and its findings present a real opportunity to build public awareness and education around the safe and secure recycling of consumer electronics across the country,” Wiener said. “We all have, or know someone who has used electronic products gathering dust at home. These products have the potential to be put to good use either in the form of a refurbished product, potentially helping an underserved community here or abroad, or having its parts recycled and used for the manufacture of another product, saving natural resources in the process.”
ISRI looks forward to working with key policymakers and stakeholders in the coming months to address an initiative to build awareness around this issue.
To view the entire report, visit: http://usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/commission_publications.htm
The U.S. electronics recycling industry employs more than 45,000 employees. For more information about the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment, and sustainable development, visit www.isri.org.