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Electronic Waste: Corporate and Non-Profit Initiatives
Table of Contents
Background and Overview
Reasons for Change
P2 Opportunities
Corporate and Non-Profit Initiatives
Options for E-Waste
Where to go for Help
Complete List of Links

Essential Links:

Basel Action Network (BAN)
An organization that focuses on "toxic trade" (trade in toxic wastes, toxic products, and toxic tech...

Clean Computer Campaign
Web site that covers high-tech industry impacts on community, worker, and environmental health. Clea...

EIA Environment Consumer Education Initiative
Information about recycling electronic equipment, including a database of reuse and recycling progra...

Corporate and Non-Profit Initiatives

A variety of voluntary restrictions on hazardous materials used in manufacturing and end-of-life electronics recycling is currently being pursued in the United States. Manufacturers, individual states, and local municipalities are all addressing this issue in a variety of ways. The USEPA, manufacturers and their trade associations, and some nonprofit groups have established voluntary programs that outline specific levels of environmental responsibility. This section contains a summary of some of these initiatives.

One way e-waste may be effectively addressed voluntarily is through promotion of extended producer responsibility (EPR). The aim of EPR is to encourage producers to prevent pollution and reduce resource and energy use in each stage of the product life cycle through changes in product design and process technology. In its widest sense, producer responsibility is the principle that producers bear a degree of responsibility for all environmental impacts of their products. This includes upstream impacts arising from the choice of materials and from the manufacturing process as well as the downstream impacts, i.e., from use and disposal of products. The state of Washington has mandated this type of program, but no voluntary action this extensive is known at this time.

Manufacturers' initiatives
The International Association of Electronics Recyclers, a trade association for the electronics recycling industry, has implemented a process to conduct third-party audits of electronics recycling facilities to achieve the designation of "Certified Electronics Recycler."

Electronics manufacturers like Dell, IBM, Apple, and Sony Electronics all have "end-of-life" responsibility programs in place. From trade associations to computer manufacturing companies to chip manufacturers to retail stores, product stewardship has become serious business. View a sample of private companies that have taken a leadership role in regard to shared responsibility for managing electronics. A list of links to Industry Initiatives for Electronics Recycling can be found at the National Recycling Coalition.

Non-profit initiatives
The Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition produces an annual report card outlining progress of companies on social and environmental indicators, including materials policy, supply chain management, take-back programs, and end-of-life management of their products. They also have a recycler pledge to assure proper recycling of electronics.

The Basel Action Network also sponsors an Electronics Recycler's Pledge of True Stewardship. The Basal Action Network is based in Seattle and is a global network of activists promoting sustainable and just solutions to consumption and waste, especially focused on eliminating the transfer of toxics "dumping" on underdeveloped countries.

Government initiatives
The EPEAT assessment tool provides guidance for manufacturers and a listing for purchasers of environmentally friendly products. The tool includes a registry for manufacturers to list products that meet bronze, silver, or gold standards of environmental criteria. This program is entirely voluntary. Funding for the tool was provided by the U.S. EPA, and is being operated by the Zero Waste Alliance.

The Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC) is a voluntary partnership program that encourages federal agencies and facilities to purchase greener electronic products, reduce impacts of electronic products during use, and manage obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way.

The US EPA Office of Solid Waste provides voluntary Guidelines for Materials Management for EPA's Plug-In To eCycling partners. These guidelines aim to promote and maintain adequate markets for reuse and recycling of electronic equipment. Partnership in Plug-In to eCycling is currently limited to manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, and nonprofit businesses that engage in collection of used electronic equipment.

Energy Star

In Europe, the Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS), phases out lead, mercury, and cadmium, plus certain brominated flame retardants: polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and PBBs. The European Union (EU) has also mandated that manufacturers set up appropriate recycling networks, in their Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive. It includes mandated recycling targets. Manufacturers will not be able to sell products in the EU that do not comply with these directives. Since manufacturers sell world wide, many products that qualify for sale in Europe, and thus have reduced hazardous materials, may also be sold in other countries. On the other hand, products produced that do not meet European standards may be sold in the U.S. and other countries that do not have these restrictions.


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Hub Last Updated: 10/23/2006