Author Elizabeth Wilmot

Electronics Recycling Updates

Electronics Recycling Updates

We thought our readers would be interested in the following electronics recycling updates taken directly from ISRI.

Electronics Scrap

The U.S. electronics recycling industry has shown tremendous growth in recent years. This maturing segment of the scrap industry generates revenues of approximately $5 billion (up from less than $1 billion in 2002) and employs more than 30,000 full-time workers according to a recent IDC study.

Last year, the U.S. electronics recycling industry processed 3 million to 4 million tons of used and end-of-life electronics equipment. More than 70 percent of the collected equipment is manufactured into specification-grade commodities — including scrap steel, aluminum, copper, lead, circuit boards, plastics and glass. These valuable commodities are then sold to basic material manufacturers in the United States and globally as raw material feedstock for new products, such as steel, copper, aluminum, plastic and glass.

Electronics recyclers repair, refurbish and resell functioning electronics equipment as used products into domestic and international markets. Companies also provide a number of logistical services, like collection, storage and transportation, as well as scrubbing hard drives of sensitive personal and commercial data.

The industry is driven by equipment collected from businesses and commercial interests, comprising up to 75% of the market on a volume basis. The electronics recycling industry is poised to meet the anticipated increased demand for more used products and specification-grade commodities, with companies currently operating at about 50% of their operational capabilities.

The electronics recycling industry has seen a dramatic increase in the use of third-party certifications. The marketplace is pushing electronics recyclers to become certified to programs like ISRI’s R2/RIOS™ program ( to improve operational controls, meet customer demands and secure a competitive advantage.

The reuse of used electronics equipment and consumption of commodity-grade materials recovered from electronics to manufacture new products boosts the U.S. economy, creates jobs and sustains natural resources, conserves impressive amounts of energy in the manufacturing process and reduces greenhouse gas emissions from those facilities.

The ISRI Scrap Yearbook 2012 is the most up-to-date and comprehensive overview of the scrap recycling industry in the United States. The yearbook not only includes useful information about the economic and environmental benefits associated with scrap recycling, but also provides readers with commodity-specific overviews of how scrap is generated, processed, traded and used. In addition, the yearbook contains practical examples of the life cycles and material flows of key recycled goods and commodities.

The initial section of the yearbook provides readers with an introduction to ISRI, followed by selected economic and environmental-related highlights. For example, in 2011 alone the U.S. scrap recycling industry processed approximately 135 million metric tons of scrap commodities valued at $100 billion while directly and indirectly supporting nearly 460,000 jobs.

Data for the yearbook were provided by U.S. government agencies, international sources (including the United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database), other industry associations, independent studies and ISRI estimates. For more information about ISRI and the scrap recycling industry, visit the ISRI website at