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Electronics Recycling: Tech Giants Join EPA’s Challenge

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by - 10/3/2012 8352 Views

US EPA takes initiative to encourage electronic recycling

The US EPA has launched the ‘Sustainable Materials Management Challenge’, an initiative to encourage electronic retailers and manufacturers to recycle their products. Leaders in the electronic manufacturing industry namely - Best Buy, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sprint, and Staples have participated in this challenge and have committed to send 100 percent of the used electronics that they gather to third-party recyclers for reuse and recycling during the next two years. This voluntary program makes sure to rate businesses falling into levels ranging between bronze and gold, depending on how much of their material is recycled by certified companies and how much data they report.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson said, “Used electronics have materials in them that can be recovered and recycled, reducing the economic costs and environmental impacts of securing and processing new materials for new products”.

The new edge from EPA’s side is part of President Obama’s National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, a strategy for the responsible design, purchase, recycling and management of electronics.

The Darker Side

It’s really hard to believe that the United States generates almost 2.5 million tons of electronic waste per year and the number obviously keeps growing every day. Discarded electronic materials dumped as garbage contains hazardous compounds like lead, mercury and flame retardants, definitely carcinogenic and lethal to living beings.


Despite these efforts from the side of EPA, that appears beneficial to third party recyclers, the environmental advocacy group Basel Action Network (BAN) has got a negative and a not-so-pleasant version to share. Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the BAN says, “We worry that companies in the EPA Electronics Challenge will believe that the recycler certifications are the same. But they are not – far from it.

Jim finds that the EPA challenge program fails to distinguish between the two very different electronics recycler certifications currently recognized by the EPA, “R2” and “e-Stewards”. BAN pin points EPA’s failure in revealing the difference between the both “gives a false sense of equivalency”. “Over 70 environmental groups support the E-Stewards Certification. R2 is not supported by any environmental organizations.”

BAN further warns the tech companies who have joined forces with EPA, of losing their reputation for all their used electronic products are to be dumped into remote areas in Asia or Africa. That’s really scary! We belong to the Asian continent indeed. Jim further adds, “For political reasons, EPA will not admit that e-Stewards is more robust and protective of the environment. But in a very real sense, e-Stewards Certification is the true gold level standard.”

Better climatic conditions and a comfortable land to stand on, is possible only when we minimize dumping huge tons of wastes as garbage at the proximity of areas where people dwell. These allegations pose a huge threat to commoners and the one possible thing they could do is to pray that these are just the assumptions of BAN.


Category : General

Tags : electronic recycling, EPA, Sustainable Materials M

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About Prejushya Kalicharan

I grew up in Nagercoil and still reside over here. Of my academic path - I had already set my foot in the Biotechnology field and was  pretty passionate  experimenting in this daily evolving field, when I realized that I had no option to be emp .... more info


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