Tuesday, 26 July 2011

US launches electronics stewardship strategy for greener IT

image Last Wednesday the US government published its ‘National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship’ aimed at  making government IT more energy efficient, encouraging vendors to manufacture more recyclable devices and addressing the problems caused by e-waste.

The strategy was co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the General Services Administration (GSA). The recommendations in the strategy fall into four areas, summarised below.

Incentives for the design of greener electronics

  • Establish multi-stakeholder groups to accelerate green electronics design standards.

  • Promote consumer purchasing of green electronics.

  • Promote R&D that improves the ability to recover and market valuable materials from used electronics.

  • Launch electronics stewardship competitions to stimulate innovations in green product design and recycling.

  • Ensure expansion of quality green electronics certification programs, including EPEAT.

Ensure that the Federal Government leads by example

  • Establish a government-wide policy on used electronics that maximises reuse and ensures that all Federal electronics are processed by certified recyclers.

  • Encourage electronics manufacturers to expand their product take-back programs by increasing the use of such agreements in Federal electronics purchases.

  • Require recipients of former Federal equipment for reuse to use certified recyclers and follow other environmentally sound practices.

  • Improve tracking of used Federal electronics throughout their lifecycle.

  • More effectively direct Federal Government spending on electronics toward green products.

  • Expand the use of the intergovernmental cooperative agreements to make it easier to ship used electronics to original equipment manufacturers or other entities for reuse.

  • Identify markets, as well as market and financial assistance opportunities, associated with managing and recycling used electronics.

Increase safe and effective management and handling of used electronics in the US

  • Launch voluntary partnerships with the electronics industry.

  • Provide guidance to electronics recycling employers on health and safety.

  • Establish approaches to provide public access to information on quantities and movement of used electronics within the US.

Improve safe handling of used electronics in developing countries

  • Improve information on trade flows and handling of used electronics, within the limits of existing legal authorities.

  • Provide technical assistance and partnerships with developing countries to better manage used electronics.

  • Work with exporters to incentivise and promote the safe handling of remanufactured, recycled and used electronics.

  • Regulatory changes to improve compliance with the rules governing the export of cathode ray tubes destined for reuse and recycling.

  • Support ratification of the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.


It’s a comprehensive package and federal purchasing power is likely to ensure it has an impact on the market. For example, not only will the GSA join the EPEAT standard development process, but it will also work to remove all non-Energy Star and EPEAT products from approved purchasing lists, wherever possible.

Revised policy will also require Federal agencies to only dispose of electronic equipment via refurbishers or recyclers certified under an accredited scheme. The EPA and GSA will develop a set of minimum criteria for electronics recycling standards for Federal Government’s used electronics.

Many large IT suppliers to the US government will have green products available and recycling take-back schemes in place, but this policy should ensure that the green IT strategies are more comprehensive and adopted by more suppliers, not just the major players. The whole market should benefit, which is one of the aims.

© The Green IT Review

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