Original Article

Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 349-369

First online:

Characterization of monitor recycling in Seattle, Washington

  • Seung-Jin LeeAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington Email author 
  • , Joyce CooperAffiliated withDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
  • , Gina HicksAffiliated withSBW Consulting, Inc.

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Abstract

With the rapid growth of electronic waste (e-waste), policies that aim to effectively manage this waste stream have been introduced globally in recent years. Seattle, Washington, has been on the forefront of introducing policies to divert e-waste from the landfills and maximize recycling. With the introduction of the Take-it-Back-Network, a solid recycling infrastructure has existed in the Greater Seattle region since 2003. In 2009, the E-Cycle Washington program took into effect and now allows recyclers to offer free recycling of certain e-waste to households and small entities. Although policies to divert e-waste from the landfill to reuse and recycling is effective, there is also a need to analyze the current regional recycling infrastructure’s capacity to handle changing equipment and material quantities. This study aims to characterize the Seattle regional e-waste management capacity, with a focus on retired monitors as an example of a changing e-waste technology. We investigated waste computer monitor recycling in the Greater Seattle region, which includes the counties of King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap. Interviews were conducted on 20 collectors, 1 handler, and 2 processors to collect information on their business models, computer monitor management processes, and collection/processing quantities. Using this information, we summarize the material flows of end-of-life (EOL) cathode ray tube (CRT) and liquid crystal display (LCD) monitors in the region, both from the qualitative and quantitative perspective.

Keywords

Electronic waste Computer monitors Cathode ray tube Liquid crystal display Material flow analysis Seattle