As businesses and individuals upgrade existing computer systems and incorporate new technologies, more computers and other electronics are finding their way into the waste stream. By promoting waste prevention, reuse, and recycling, EPA hopes to deter people from sending electronic products to landfills.
Although electronic waste is less than 10% of the current solid waste stream, it is growing 2-3 times faster than any other waste stream. In 1998, of the 20 million computers taken out of service, only 2.3 million, which is slightly more than 10%, were recycled.1 Between 2000 and 2007, as many as 500 million personal computers will become obsolete.
- The National Safety Council published, "Electronic Product Recovery and Recycling Baseline Report: Recycling of Selected Electronic Products in the United States," a report that documents the results of the first large-scale survey and analysis of end-of-life electronic product recycling and reuse in the United States.
Electronic waste refers to electronic products that have finished their useful life. Consumer electronic products include televisions and monitors, computers, computer peripherals, audio and stereo equipment, VCRs, DVD players, video cameras, telephones, fax and copying machines, cellular phones, wireless devices, and video game consoles.
State Electronics Challenge: In 2009, a Source Reduction Grant was awarded to the Northeast Recycling Council for a project that will introduce and support the State Electronics Challenge (SEC) in EPA Region 8.
The SEC is a voluntary program—modeled on the Federal Electronics Challenge—that non-federal government entities, such as state agencies, municipal and county government, colleges and universities, and public schools, join as Partners. Partners commit to take action to reduce the environmental footprint of their computer assets, and in return receive one-on-one technical assistance, web-based resources, webinar opportunities, and reporting and measurement tools to spur innovative pollution prevention approaches to managing their computer assets.
Specifically, the SEC promotes:
- Environmentally preferable purchasing of computers using the EPEAT® environmental performance standard,
- Improved operations and maintenance of computer equipment (e.g., energy conservation through power management, paper use reduction)
- Environmentally responsible recycling of computers at the end-of-life.
Environmental outcomes, including reductions in greenhouse gases, energy use, municipal solid wastes, toxic materials such as lead and mercury, hazardous waste, and cost savings will be calculated using the EPA-supported Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator (EEBC). The SEC collects data on Partners’ activities using the SEC Annual Reporting Form, which is aligned with the data entry fields for the EEBC. SEC Partners who complete program requirements are eligible for recognition.
Status of the Region 8 Effort
The first State Electronics Challenge Introductory Teleconference was held in February. It was a great success, with more than 50 registrants from the EPA Region 8 states. And, the call has already resulted in two new Partners: the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, and the Natrona County, Wyoming. They join the North Dakota Department of Health and the City of Vermillion (SD) Solid Waste Department as Partners.
For more information about the SEC, go to: www.stateelectronicschallenge.net/
EPA Region 8 Project Officer
Federal Electronics Challenge : The FEC is a voluntary partnership program spearheaded by EPA, the Office of the Federal
Environmental Executive and several other agencies. The Challenge encourages federal facilities and agencies to purchase greener electronic products, reduce impacts of electronic products during use, and manage obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way. While the target audience for the Challenge are federal agencies, many of the resources and presentations that have been developed are useful to a wider range of audiences.
- Region 8 is an FEC Champion and provides technical assistance to FEC partner agencies in the Region 8 States.
Plug-In To eCycling
As part of its Resource Conservation Challenge, EPA launched the Plug-In To eCycling campaign to spread the word about opportunities to reuse and recycle old computers, TVs, and cell phones. How to become a Plug-In partner, informational brochures, reuse and recycling opportunities, and a list of current campaign partners is provided.
Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)
EPEAT, which stands for Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, is an easy-to-use, on-line tool helping institutional purchasers select and compare computer desktops, laptops and monitors based on their environmental attributes.
Often organizations need to show the benefits of making decisions based on environmental criteria. An Electronics Environmental Benefits Calculator can do the task by quantifying the benefits gained by purchasing EPEAT-registered computer desktops, laptops, and monitors. Enter the number of EPEAT-registered products purchased, and the calculator tallies the energy and money savings, as well as reductions in toxic substances, hazardous waste generated, etc. The calculator can also quantify improvements in equipment operation and end-of-life management practices. Currently, this tool is designed to evaluate EPEAT-registered desktop (with a CRT or LCD monitor) and notebook computers. The University of Tennessee developed the calculator under a cooperative agreement with EPA. This calculator tool is currently available in an Excel Spreadsheet format. In 2007, EPA plans to make the Calculator available as a web-based tool.
National Center for Electronics Recycling
Provides information on collection, demanufacturing, and refurbishment and resale for electronics recycling; also provides guidance to households and organizations for promoting recycling and reuse efforts
Region 8 Electronics Stewardship Coordinator
USEPA Region 8
1595 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202