While we had anticipated that there would be a noticeable increase in electronics collection activity, the results were dramatic.
Many of the changes in the types and location of programs can be directly attributed to California's ban on cathode ray tube disposal, the EPA Region III eCycle project, and NERC's USDA-funded rural development project establishing electronics recycling programs in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
The population served by program type shifted dramatically. Many of the new programs in California, the Mid-Atlantic region and Pennsylvania are in large urban settings. The 2001 data reflected very few programs in cities with populations in excess of a million. At the end of 2002, there were a significant number of programs in multi-million population cities. As a result, the average populations have increased dramatically.
In 2001 we found that 37% of the programs had begun or taken place within the past year, with 13% being less than six months old. In the past year there was a dramatic escalation in the launch of new electronics collection programs, with almost 60% of the programs beginning or taking place in the past year, and a notable 35% being held in the past six months.
An interesting shift has occurred in program access. Half as many programs now only allow access to residents and, as a corollary, almost twice as many now provide access to small businesses. This may reflect a growing demand for such services from the small business sector, but may also be financially driven. There has been almost a 19% increase in the number of programs that charge fees to residents and a 17% increase in programs charging fees to businesses. As a result, a majority of programs are now charging fees. Often business fees are higher than the fees charged to residents. Expanding program access may be a mechanism for financially supporting the overall program.
Another change relative to end-of-life fees is their size. In 2001 the majority of programs were charging $5 per cathode ray tube. Those end-of-life fees have now generally increased to $7 - $10. An associated shift in program design is an overall decrease in the percentage of programs that accept "all electronics". Another change is a notable increase in the number of programs that are specifically accepting cell phones. This is a category of electronics that was barely mentioned by programs in 2001.
Despite an increase in the number of programs charging end-of-life fees, an increase in those fees, and a constriction in the range of materials being accepted, overall program costs have decreased.
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