On September 20, 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the launch of the Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge (SMM). The initiate encourages manufacturers and retailers to make recycling and refurbishing a standard within the electronics industry.
During the announcement, Lisa Feldt, the EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response, was joined by major leaders like Best Buy, LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Staples. The announcement occurred at the Vintage Tech Recyclers in Romeoville, Illinois.
The companies participating in SMM have agreed to send 100 percent of all use electronics to third-party refurbishers and recycling centers. The companies will also increase efforts to collect more use electronics from consumers.
In order for a recycler to become certified, they need to undergo an audit that checks to see if recycling and management of the used electronics meets industry standards. Many of the certified recyclers are growing. For example, Vintage Tech Recyclers devoted 80 percent of all new jobs to third-party certification.
EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson stated, “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.”
The EPA makes clear that reliability on electronics increases the importance of recycling precious materials in the devices. Electronics contain rare-earth metals, copper, plastic and glass, all of which can be recycled. The mining of manufacturing of these materials uses energy and releases greenhouse gases, but by recycling the materials, the carbon footprint is reduced and industry prices slow.
Dell, Sony, and Sprint have also agreed to work with the EPA to manage their used electronics.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency