EPA and Obama Administration Unveil Federal E-Waste Strategy

EPA and Obama Administration Unveil Federal E-Waste Strategy

Yesterday the Obama Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.” The strategy seeks to promote responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling. It also commits the federal government to “take specific actions that will encourage the more environmentally friendly design of electronic products, promote recycling of used or discarded electronics, and advance a domestic market for electronics recycling that will protect public health and create jobs,” according to an EPA press release. Among the first companies to commit to the program were Dell, Sprint and Sony.

As outlined in the strategy report, the federal government will:

  • promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products;
  • direct federal agencies to buy, use, reuse and recycle their electronics responsibly;
  • support recycling options and systems for American consumers; and
  • strengthen America’s role in the international electronics stewardship arena.

Under the strategy, the General Services Administration (GSA) will ensure that all electronics purchased for federal use comply with what the agency calls “comprehensive and robust energy efficiency or environmental performance standards,” and that those electronics are properly reused or recycled at the end of their useful life. In addition, EPA and GSA will seek new environmental performance standards for categories of electronic products not covered by current standards. Several federal agencies will work together to identify methods for tracking used electronics in federal agencies to move toward reuse and recycling.

“The Nation’s largest single consumer of electronics, the Federal Government, will now be the Nation’s most responsible user of electronics,” said GSA Administrator Martha Johnson at a ceremony unveiling the program. “The steps outlined in the report will ensure that government leads by example and that the billions of dollars in IT equipment the government cycles through annually will be either reused or recycled properly.”

Administrator Jackson signed a voluntary commitment with Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse to promote a U.S. based electronics recycling market that will protect people’s health and create good jobs here at home. Pictured (L-R): Dan Hesse, Lisa Jackson, Michael Dell.The strategy also includes a range of components that seek to involve private industry. As part of the strategy’s unveiling, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson signed a voluntary commitment with Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse to promote a U.S.-based electronics recycling market.

Businesses and consumers will be encouraged to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers. Meanwhile, EPA is encouraging electronic recyclers to become certified under the two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, R2 and E-Stewards. In a press release, EPA says it will continue to work with industry to encourage other companies to voluntarily commit to help grow the domestic recycling market, create the green jobs in the United States and educate consumers.

“A robust electronics recycling industry in America would create new opportunities to efficiently and profitably address a growing pollution threat,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at the unveiling ceremony. “The participation of industry leaders like Dell, Sprint and Sony is absolutely essential to this effort, and will help ensure that the work of the federal government -- the largest electronics consumer around -- is protecting our people from pollution at the same time we support savings and job creation through e-cycling and re-use of valuable materials."

“Through a strong federal partnership, and coordination with manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, State and local governments, and other stakeholders, the actions outlined here will help address the potential health and environmental problems caused by the mismanagement of discarded electronics,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, at the ceremony. “This strategy will encourage the recycling of these valuable resources and allow the U.S. to take advantage of the economic opportunities of remanufacturing and create jobs of the future here in America.”

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