Business plan for e-waste organizations

The Northwest Product Stewardship Council has released a report that provides a conceptual business plan for how an industry-managed Third Party Organization can be established to oversee electronics recycling systems in multiple states.

The business plan contains information useful to manufacturers, legislatures, planning organizations, government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and others that are exploring how to establish and utilize manufacturer-managed Third Party Organizations to operate programs for difficult-to-manage products such as electronics. Similar organizations exist throughout Canada and Europe and on a voluntary basis in the U.S. for batteries, carpet and mercury thermostats. Legislation recently passed by the State of Washington will establish a similar organization to manage the recycling of computers and televisions.

The report, entitled “Conceptual Business Plan for an Electronic Product Stewardship Third Party Organization (TPO),” is the result of a collaborative project of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council and Washington State Department of Ecology. Funding was provided by the U.S. EPA, participating manufacturers, local governments and others. The details of the business plan and its approach were under the direction and guidance of a Steering Committee comprised of eight electronics manufacturers. Government staff, consultants and legal advisors provided technical support on the report.

The report provides a conceptual plan for the establishment of a Third Party Organization to deliver recycling services for waste electronics products, which include computers, televisions and monitors, in Oregon and Washington. The information contained in the report is relevant and applicable to other regions and other products including paint, mercury-containing devices and pharmaceuticals.

The Conceptual Business Plan describes the TPO as an industry-led, not-for-profit organization established in response to state legislation. The operations of the TPO would be guided by a board of directors comprised of electronics manufacturers with oversight from state government agencies. While information in the Business Plan is relevant to a variety of financing scenarios, the manufacturers involved in this project chose a front-end consumer fee as the funding mechanism for this plan. The government agencies, consultants and others providing support to the report do not necessarily endorse this particular financing approach.

The Conceptual Business Plan describes a recommended governance model for the TPO and defines the financial and administrative costs required to establish and operate the TPO. The report also calculates the costs to provide collection, transportation and recycling services within the two states. For the first four years of operations, the total costs of the TPO and recycling system were projected at approximately $29 million.

In addition, a legal analysis was conducted to determine the conditions that would be necessary to establish and authorize a conceptual TPO to operate an electronics recycling program.

The manufacturers guiding development of the conceptual business plan were Epson, IBM, JVC, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp and Sony. Government members of the Northwest Product Stewardship Council providing assistance to the manufacturers included Snohomish County, City of Seattle, King County, Metro Regional Government – Oregon, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Washington Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 10.

The Northwest Product Stewardship Council (NWPSC) is a group of government organizations that work with businesses and nonprofit groups to integrate product stewardship principles into the policy and economic structures of the Pacific Northwest.

To view the complete report, visit the Northwest Product Stewardship Council website at


Sego Jackson, Northwest Product Stewardship Council

David Nightingale, Washington State Department of Ecology

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