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[ Electronics Manufacturers and Retailers Join EPA Challenge for Safe Management of Used Electronics ]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently launched its Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge, an initiative to make protective electronics refurbishing and recycling practices the industry standard. EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response Lisa Feldt, joined by leaders from Best Buy, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sprint, and Staples, made the announcement at Vintage Tech Recyclers, a certified electronics recycling facility in Romeoville, Ill.

“Already, the United States generates almost 2.5 million tons of electronic waste per year – and that number will only grow. 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,” said EPA Administrator Lisa. P. Jackson. “The SMM Electronics Challenge will help us ensure that we are doing all we can to repurpose or safely dispose of the cell phones, computers and other devices we use every day – all while helping to build a robust market for electronics recycling in the United States.”

As the volume of used electronics continues to grow in the U.S. and the world, so has the importance of safely managing and recycling used electronics. Electronics are made of valuable resources such as precious metals, copper, plastic and glass – all of which require energy to mine and manufacture. Recycling or reusing these electronics conserves these materials and prevents greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.

By participating in the SMM Electronics Challenge, leaders in the electronics industry are committing to send 100 percent of the used electronics that they collect to third-party certified refurbishers and recyclers and to increase the amount of used electronics they collect. Through this challenge, EPA is providing a transparent and measurable way for electronic companies to commit to safe and environmentally protective practices for the refurbishment and recycling of used electronics, and publically show progress toward recycling goals.

In order to be certified, recyclers must demonstrate to an accredited, independent auditor that they meet specific standards to safely recycle and manage used electronics. Third-party recyclers, including Vintage Tech Recyclers, are expanding to meet growing demand for this accreditation. Vintage Tech Recyclers attributes 80 percent of new jobs added in the last two years to their third-party certification.

The Electronics Challenge supports President Obama’s “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” – a strategy for the responsible design, purchasing, management and recycling of electronics to promote the growing electronics recycling market and jobs of the future. In conjunction with the release of the National Strategy in July of 2011, Dell, Sony and Sprint committed to EPA to follow a set of responsible management practices with their used electronics. The commitments of these three companies formed the foundation from which the Electronics Challenge was developed.

More information on the EPA and industry collaboration: http://www.epa.gov/smm

More information on the National Strategy: http://www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/ecycling/taskforce/docs/strategy.pdf

More information on certified recycling:  

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/ecycling/certification.htm

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