Sustainable Electronics Initiative

Welcome to SEI

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI) at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) is dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, using, and managing electronic devices.

About SEI

State Electronics Challenge Webinars: 11/18 Recording Available, 12/2 Webinar Scheduled

SECIntroSlideCaptureOn November 18, 2014, SEI and the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR)  co-sponsored a webinar, “Introduction to the State Electronics Challenge.”

Lynn Rubinstein gave an overview of the State Electronics Challenge, a voluntary national program, free of charge and open to any state, tribal, regional, or local government agency, as well as any K-12 school or non-profit organization. The SEC promotes environmental stewardship of computers, monitors, and imaging equipment — from purchasing green office equipment through power management, paper use reduction, and responsible end-of-life management — resulting in measurable reductions in energy, greenhouse gases, solid and hazardous waste, and associated costs. The goal of the webinar was to illustrate how your organization can join the Challenge and benefit from the program’s proven free technical assistance, action plan, implementation tools, and environmental benefit calculations. Lynn provided information and examples specific to Illinois and the rest of the Great Lakes region of the US, for the information of members of both GLRPPR and the UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium.

The Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), SEI’s parent organization, has joined the SEC, as has Engineering IT Shared Services here on the UI campus.

If you wish to learn how your organization or unit can join, view the archived webinar, along with slides and links to supporting materials on the GLRPPR web site. Links are also available on the UI Sustainable Electronics Campus Consortium page.  You may also wish to register for a similar introductory webinar, scheduled for December 2, 2014 for 1-2 PM CST.

Legislation Proposed to Address Electronics Recycling Challenges in IL

Tomorrow, November 15th, is America Recycles Day (ARD), an annual celebration to raise awareness of recycling opportunities and encourage US citizens to increase their recycling, as well as to buy products made with recycled materials. Read the Presidential Proclamation on America Recycle Day 2014 at, and Keep America Beautiful’s ARD web site for more information.

Of course it’s very important to remember to properly recycle electronic devices for a multitude of reasons, including the reclamation of precious materials, keeping toxins out of the environment, and being conscious of the energy and other natural and human resources invested in the creation of the gadgets upon which we’re increasingly dependent. In Illinois, however, electronics recycling programs have faced challenges in 2014, resulting from the current wording of the State’s Electronic Products Reuse and Recycling Act. If you read this blog regularly, you’ve perhaps noticed announcements of cancellations of electronics collection events sponsored by counties or municipalities, or the discontinuation of certain electronics recycling services. The reasons behind many of these occurrences have to do with the fact that current IL law is meant to fully pay for residential electronics recycling, with manufacturers paying to recycle a percentage, by total weight, of covered electronic devices they sold within IL two years prior to the year in question. This is a form of extended producer responsibility. Illinois’s law, which includes a landfill ban on certain electronic devices and fines for failure to meet these recycling quotas, was heralded as one of the strictest in the country when it took effect a few years ago.

However, the weight-based quotas are currently failing to meet demand for electronics recycling, as 1) more and more electronic devices enter the waste stream, 2) electronics become increasingly smaller and lighter over time, and, 3) many older, heavier “legacy” devices, like Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors and TVs, are being recycled by consumers. CRT monitors contain lead, which explains why that old computer monitor you may have stored in your basement is so darn heavy. Over time, the manufacturers’ weight-based quotas have been reached earlier and earlier in the year, and the recycled devices effectively represent less of the actual number of devices sold in the State as heavier items like CRTs are counted toward the quotas. Once those quotas are reached, manufacturers are no longer required to pay recycling contractors to process electronic devices covered under the law. So unless the companies, non-profit organizations, or local governments collecting electronic devices are willing or financially able to pay the electronics recyclers for processing, electronics recycling events or services may be discontinued after those quotas are reached. As noted in a recent Herald-News article by Lauren Leone-Cross, the Will County electronics recycling program, for example, may be in jeopardy unless legislative action is taken to address these issues.

This electronics recycling crisis has lead to the filing this week (11/12), by Representative Emily McAsey, of a proposed amendment to House Bill 4042. This amendment would increase recycling goals so that manufacturers would be required to recycle 100% of the total weight of covered electronic devices sold in Illinois during the calendar year two years prior to the applicable program year. It would also prevent local governments acting as collectors from being charged a fee by registered refurbishers or recyclers to recycle or refurbish covered and eligible electronic devices, unless they are provided either a financial incentive (such as a coupon of equal or greater value than the fee being charged) or a premium service (such as curbside collection, home pick up, or similar method of collection), the latter being more applicable for local governments. Read the full text of the proposed amendment at

Continue to monitor the SEI Blog and the US State & Local Legislation page on the SEI web site, for more information on this situation as it unfolds.

View Older Posts at the SEI Blog Archive

Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

Donate/Recycle Electronics

Find out where to recycle or donate your old electronics or find options near you at

2013 International Sustainable Electronics Competition

International E-Waste Design CompetitionWinners were announced at ISTC on December 5, 2013. Read the press release here. View the winning videos here.


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Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable

The SEI has partnered with the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) to create a sustainable future.