Electronic Waste Recycling in Massachusetts

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On September 24, 2012, Apple Inc. reported that the iPhone 5 sold five million units in its first weekend (New York Times, 2012). Immediately, millions of older phones became obsolete, eclipsed by the lighter and faster model. Consumers are enamored with technological innovation, which drives them to purchase the newest product on the market. However, these technological innovations come at a cost. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environment Protection, this unwanted technology, more commonly known as electronic waste, is the fastest growing category of waste in the state.

Why it Matters:

In Massachusetts, consumers must spend time and money to ensure electronic waste is properly disposed. As a result, most electronic waste suffers the same fate as any household trash; it is collected and thrown in a landfill, incinerated, or shipped off to a third world country. On occasion, with the right system and incentives in place, consumers recycle electronic waste, keeping the precious – and often dangerous – materials it contains out of the environment.

Outreach Website: Massachusetts E-Waste Repository

The Project:

As part of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Undergraduate degree requirements, every student must complete an Interdisciplinary Qualifying Project in an area outside of their major. Three juniors chose a project to change that paradigm of electronic waste disposal in Massachusetts. In one semester, after many long nights, they became quasi-experts and strong advocates for a state-wide E-Waste recycling program that holds manufactures responsible for the cost of disposing of their products. This page details the trials and tribulations of Brianna Newton, Raj Patel, and Christopher Savoia as they work to make Massachusetts a cleaner, healthier place.

Final Report:

Electronic Waste Recycling Legislation in Massachusetts

Project Video: