National e-recycling strategy supported

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa P. Jackson, general services administrator Martha N. Johnson, and White House council on environmental quality chair Nancy Sutley were joined by the CEOs of Dell Inc. and Sprint, and senior executives from Sony Electronics to release the Obama Administration’s “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” – a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the burgeoning electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here at home.

The announcement included the first voluntary commitments made by Dell, Sprint and Sony to EPA’s industry partnership aimed at promoting environmentally sound management of used electronics. The Administration’s strategy 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.

Every year, Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics, which are made from valuable resources such as precious metals and rare earth materials, as well as plastic and glass. From computers and cell phones, to portable communication and music devices – the United States is, and will continue to be, a global leader in designing and developing new and improved electronic technologies.

The responsible management of electronics provides an opportunity to create economic development and jobs by developing a strong domestic electronics recycling market while preventing pollution at home and abroad.

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 new strategy, the United States General Services Administration (GSA) will remove products that do not comply with comprehensive and energy efficiency or environmental performance standards – from its information technology purchase contracts used by federal agencies, and will ensure that all electronics used by the Federal government are reused or recycled properly.

In addition, EPA and GSA will promote development of 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.

A key component of this strategy includes the use of certified recyclers and increasing safe and effective management and handling of used electronics in the United States and working with industry in a collaborative manner to achieve that goal. As a first step in this effort, EPA administrator Jackson in Austin, Texas signed a voluntary commitment with Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell and Sprint CEO Dan Hesse to promote a United States-based electronics recycling market. Sony Electronics Inc. representatives were also present and also committed to improving the safe management of used electronics.

This collaboration with industry aims to encourage businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers, and for electronic recyclers to become certified. There are two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, R2 and E-Stewards. The electronics recycling industry is increasingly embracing these certification programs. Certified recyclers are regularly audited by these certification entities to ensure that electronics are recycled in a manner that is safe for human health and the environment.

As the next steps in this collaborative effort, EPA will continue to work with industry to encourage other companies to voluntarily commit to help grow the domestic recycling market, create the green jobs of the future 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.