LANSING – State Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) today announced legislation to expand the state’s Electronic Waste Takeback Program to include mobile phones and tablet computers.

Senator Warren sponsored the original “e-waste” legislation, signed into law in 2008, which required computer and television manufacturers to develop programs for consumers to recycle obsolete products and register those programs with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The legislation also called for the companies participating in recycling to comply with environmental standards and provided the DEQ authority to enforce penalties for subsequent violations.

“I was proud to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help pass our ‘e-waste’ program in 2008,” said Senator Warren. “This legislation updates that law to include mobile phones and tablet computers in an effort to keep up with our rapidly evolving technology.”

Under the legislation, Michigan began accepting electronic items for recycling in April of 2010. In its first full year, from 2010 to 2011, the program collected 1.67 lbs per capita. Nationally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that computers were recycled at a rate of 40% in 2010, while mobile devices were recycled at a rate of just 11%.

Consumers Electronics Association (CEA) estimates that approximately 152 million smartphones were purchased in 2014. Recycling one ton of used mobile phones, which amounts to around 6,000 devices, yields about $15,000 in precious metals including silver, gold, palladium, and copper, according to Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP).

“Electronics have become so prominent in our lives that most of us will go through several devices in the span of a decade,” Warren said. “Expanding opportunities for recycling now will help us begin the education process with our residents and prevent improper disposal from becoming a toxic problem down the road.”