The latest major development aimed at controlling electronic waste disposal occurred at a press event in late July in Austin, Texas. There, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and major manufacturers of electronics signed an agreement to encourage certified recycling and support the best practices for end-of-life products.
To kick off the initiative, CEO’s of Dell, Sprint and Sony and top officials from the Obama administration unveiled the “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.” It aims to encourage electronics manufacturers to responsibly design, purchase, manage and recycle products to protect the environment and public health. By doing so, government and manufacturers want to promote electronics recycling through certified recyclers in order to recover more materials and create more new American jobs.
The new National Strategy also plans to promote the development of more efficient and sustainable products within the federal government. It directed federal agencies to buy, reuse and recycle electronics responsibly, support recycling options for consumers and strengthen the United States role in international stewardship. The announcement also included the first voluntary commitments by the three manufacturers to foster environmentally sound management of used electronics. ...read more
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Non-exporting of electronics proves profitable
To date, the federal government has done little to curb the export of electronic wastes beyond the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cathode ray tubes (CRT) rule that requires American companies to notify EPA before exporting them. While well intentioned, the rule is easily circumvented by declaring CRTs as used equipment for resale rather than as electronic waste.
Since CRT manufacture is rapidly being supplanted by new display technologies, and that the majority of CRT production will have vanished before EPA gets to any serious enforcement, the CRT disposal problem will largely solve itself. However, there is still a huge backlog of CRTs to be processed.
While the federal government is stalled on e-waste exports, private interests have stepped up to fill the legislative void. Whether motivated by purist environmental concerns or potential exposure to bad publicity, there is a small but growing trend among American consumers, businesses and institutions not wanting to be associated with irresponsible export of hazardous e-wastes. ...read more