Last January a group of recyclers under the leadership of ISRI and a group of CTA manufacturers and retailers met during CES, the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. This meeting provided a forum for companies involved in the lifecycle of electronics a rather rare opportunity to talk about common issues and concerns, and to identify areas where better manufacturer-recycler communication might be helpful.
The group discussed product design issues, including improvements to date (e.g., removal of heavy metals from most electronic products) and challenges going forward (e.g., batteries). Product manufacturers noted the overall reduction in materials usage which are resulting in less material from electronic devices ending up in recycling facilities, and the overall lifecycle implications smaller, more compact products that are very popular with consumers now. Recyclers noted challenges with knowing whether some products contain batteries, and all sides agreed that a standard for discharge of batteries so they could be handled as non-hazardous would be helpful.
On repair meeting participants discussed standards under development for mobile devices by CTIA and ISRI concerning cosmetic and functional specifications for refurbished/repaired devices. Manufacturers also discussed design improvements for product durability and resiliency, and how sometimes these changes can affect other environmental considerations.
Rochester Institute of Technology professor Dr. Callie Babbitt presented results of research on materials issues in the lifecycle of emerging products, and challenges and opportunities these new products will create once the use phase is complete.
Finally meeting participants discussed challenges and issues with plastics, including regulation of some plastics under the Basel Convention and challenges with plastic recycling labels/codes.
The group agreed to exchange information on several of these items through their trade associations, and to meet again at events such as ISRI 2019 and CES 2020. For more information contact Billy Johnson or Walter Alcorn.