Federal Government Highlights Economic Benefits of Electronics Recycling

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) toured e-Green Management of Islip Terrace, New York to highlight the environmental, public health and economic benefits of recycling electronics. The EPA and GSA are partners in a “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship,” which commits the federal government to promoting the recycling of electronics and advancing a domestic market for electronics recycling that will protect public health, prevent pollution and create jobs.

“The growing electronics recycling industry has the potential to create new economic and environmental opportunities,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Our work with businesses like e-Green Management means that more of our nation’s electronics will be handled responsibly, and more jobs will be created. I commend e-Green Management for their work.”

"The federal government is the nation's largest consumer of electronics and GSA can and will ensure that it becomes the most responsible user of these items," said GSA Regional Administrator Denise L. Pease. "Our efforts in this region alone already keep 1300 tons or 49 percent of office and building waste out of landfills. Through GSA's programs for reuse, recycling and proper disposal of e-waste, the federal government can lead by example and, at the same time, help promote job growth in this emerging industry. Supporting small businesses who continue to generate jobs and strengthen our economy is a priority of President Barack Obama."

Every year, Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics, which are made from valuable resources such as precious metals and rare earth materials, as well as plastic and glass. From computers and cell phones, to portable communication and music devices, the U.S. is a global leader in designing and developing new and improved electronic technologies. The responsible management of electronics provides an opportunity to promote economic development and jobs by developing a strong domestic electronics recycling market while preventing pollution.

The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship includes four overarching goals:

  • Build incentives for the design of greener electronics
  • Increase the safe management and handling of used electronics
  • Reduce harm from U.S. exports of e-waste and improve the safe handling of used electronics in developing countries     
  • Ensure that the federal government expands recycling of equipment purchased by the federal government

Under this strategy, GSA will ensure that all electronics used by the federal government are reused or recycled properly. In addition, EPA and GSA will promote development of new environmental performance standards for categories of electronic products not covered by current standards. Several federal agencies will work together to identify methods to move federal agencies toward reuse and recycling.

A key component of the strategy includes the use of certified recyclers and increasing the safe and effective management and handling of used electronics. There are two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, the responsible recycling, or R2, and E-Steward certifications. The electronics recycling industry is increasingly using these certification programs. Certified recyclers are regularly audited to ensure that electronics are recycled in a manner that is safe for human health and the environment.

Founded in 2007, e-Green Management is part of the R2 certification program. The company recycles used computers, color TVs, cell phones, printers and fax machines, in addition to batteries and fluorescent bulbs. E-Green Management is planning to expand the number of full-time employees of the company within the next two years.