With the passage of Act 151 in 2022, manufacturers of eligible electronic devices would be responsible for covering the cost of recycling of all device owners. This expanded the previous e-waste recycling law, which only covered manufacturers of TVs. The law also set recycling targets, incentives in the form of financial penalties for not meeting those targets, and convenience requirements for Neighbor Islands. The convenience requirements for Hawai`i Island create in-person e-waste collections in Hilo and Kona at least once a month.
In the 2023 legislative session, Senate and House bills sought to weaken Act 151, arguing that there is not enough recycling weight to meet the targets, and recycling costs would be too high. Data from the State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), which oversees e-waste recycling, shows that prior to Act 151, the volume of recycled electronic devices plummeted. Recycled TVs, on the other hand, steadily rose and held steady.
This blog highlights some insights from DOH data.
Over the 11-year period from 2010 - 2021, the top 5 manufacturers ranked by the weight of recycled electronic devices reported to the DOH were Apple, HP, Samsung Electronics, Dell and LG Electronics. Apple and HP account for 72% of the total weight recycled during that time period (figure 2, above). The other 3 manufacturers steadily shrink to a fraction of what Apple and HP are recycling. Is this because Apple and HP are selling more products by weight in Hawai`i?
DOH data for 2021 does not suggest a correlation between (a) the total of TVs and electronic devices sold by weight and (b) the total recycled by weight. (Covered electronic devices are combined with TVs because the weight sold data is aggregated by DOH.) Samsung and LG recycle more by weight when TVs are included, but Apple and HP still recycle more as a percentage of weight sold. The data suggests then, that even with devices generally getting lighter, there is a significant amount of weight sold in Hawai`i that could be recycled.
In testimony for HB 1640 HD2 (Act 151) in March 2021, DOH pointed out the difference in total recycling between Dell and Apple. "Both Apple and Dell collect the same electronic devices," DOH wrote, "but Apple has set higher recycling targets than Dell for Hawaii."
Further, DOH added that, under the current law (prior to Act 151), "manufacturers have no incentive to increase the amount of electronic devices they recycle in Hawaii." Lacking manufacturer incentives, electronic device recycling in Hawai`i has plummeted (figure 1). Hawai`i County has also struggled to sufficiently fund its free collection program.
Against this backdrop, the new e-waste recycling law, Act 151, started on January 1, 2023, and has already seen great success in its first two months here.