New Insights into Electronic Waste Recycling in Metropolitan Areas


Address correspondence to: Nancey Green Leigh, Georgia Institute of Technology, School of City and Regional Planning, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0155, USA. Email:


Electronic waste (e-waste) recycling is a critical sector for sustainable urban industrial systems. U.S. residents and businesses generate an estimated 3.2 million tons of electronic waste each year; most is not recycled and is generated in urban areas. However, adoption of state environmental regulations for e-waste recycling is increasing. Between 2003 and mid-2011, 25 states passed e-waste laws. There are a growing number of e-waste collectors and certified processors in U.S. urban areas. While the landscape of e-waste recycling is changing, there is little analysis on the economic impacts of this industry. The research presented here synthesizes e-waste management policy developments and growth of the e-waste recycling industry. We present an economic impact analysis at the metropolitan level through constructing an extended input-output (IO) model that specifies an e-waste recycling sector. In a case study, we examine changes in e-waste recycling activities in the Seattle metropolitan area and provide simulation results of new regional economic impacts.