ENGR 460 – Paper #2: E-waste and Recycling Fees
Points: 50 Due: November 19, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. US Central Time
Background: Electronic waste (e-waste) is produced when electrical devices (computers, office equipment, mobile phones, TV sets, etc.) are discarded. E-waste can be generated either by technology becoming outdated (software no longer being optimized for given hardware) or by people upgrading to new technology.
Scrap components can contain harmful elements or compounds, including lead, cadmium, beryllium, or flame retardants. E-waste can lead to adverse effects both on the environment and on human health.
To counteract the expense of recycling e-waste, governments can charge electronic waste recycling fees. These fees are intended to pay for electronics recycling, particularly for processing the hazardous materials contained in these products. For example, the U.S. state of California charges a waste recycling fee for the purchase of computers and televisions based on diagonal screen size. Supporters contend that this fee is needed to support domestic electronics recycling, while opponents question the size of the fee and whether it is being used for its intended purpose.
In the United States, the EPA estimates that 15-20% of e-waste is recycled each year, with the remainder going into landfills and incinerators. In addition, e-waste from developed countries has been sent to developing countries. Supporters content that developing countries are often able to repurpose e-waste and give the components longer life than they otherwise would have, while opponents argue that this is simply sending a problem away (out of sight, out of mind).
Assignment: From the provided resources on Blackboard, write a short paper addressing the economic and environmental impacts of disposing of e-waste. Answer the following questions in your paper:
Should your state/province/country charge an electronics recycling fee?
Should this be collected by retailers when electronic products are sold to consumers, or should it be assessed at end-of-life (when consumers return products for recycling)?
If collected when products are sold, what is the required rate of return in each of the following circumstances (work this regardless of when fee is collected), assuming the fees can be safely invested in the interim? If collected at end-of-life, the fee would be the direct cost to recycle.
Assume that consumers keep devices on the following schedule:
Cell phones, tablets, small laptops (screen size: 4”-15”): 2 years, costs $3.75 on average to recycle, upfront fee = $3.00
Large laptops, desktop monitors, small TVs (screen size: 15”-35”): 3 years, costs $5.50 on average to recycle, upfront fee = $4.00
TVs (screen size: > 35”): 4 years, costs $8.25 on average to recycle, upfront fee = $5.00
How should your state prevent consumers from improperly disposing of e-waste?
What other measures, if any, could your state consider for electronics disposal?
Your paper should be 700-800 words long. Please include a word count for the body of your paper at the end of your document in parentheses, as indicated in this handout. Submit your paper as a .docx file on Blackboard.
Your paper should include a works cited page (APA or MLA-formatted) and in-line citations of the sources used.
(539 words – this word count begins at “Background” and excludes the title, points, and due date. Your word count should exclude the title and any header information as well, and the works cited page, but should include the rest of your paper.)