On July 20, 2011, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, General Services Administrator Martha N. Johnson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley were joined by the CEOs of Dell Inc. and Sprint, and senior executives from Sony Electronics to release the Obama Administration's "National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship" – a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the burgeoning electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here at home. The Administration's strategy also commits the federal government to take specific actions. The strategy calls for the federal government to:
- promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products;
- direct federal agencies to buy, use, reuse and recycle their electronics responsibly;
- support recycling options and systems for American consumers; and
- strengthen America's role in the international electronics stewardship arena.
A key focus of the strategy is to increase the use of certified electronics recyclers to ensure the responsible and safe management of electronics in the U.S. Electronics recycling certification became available in 2009 and since that time 123 electronics recycling facilities have attained certification, with many more facilities in the pipeline for certification. Dell, Sony and Sprint have partnered with EPA to promote the use of certified electronics recyclers in the U.S. More information on the EPA and industry collaboration: http://www.epa.gov/electronicsstrategy
More information on GSA's electronic stewardship goals and promoting federal agencies' purchasing Environmentally Preferable Products: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/234565.
The EPA followed up the Obama Administration's July 20, 2011 release of the national electronics stewardship strategy with the anxiously awaited release of the report "Electronics Waste Management in the United States Through 2009." The report estimates that 438 million electronic products were sold in the U.S. in 2009, which doubled the sales from 1997. Not surprisingly, the overall doubling of electronics sales was driven by a nine-fold increase in mobile device sales. Some other interesting findings are:
- An estimated 5 million short tons of products were in storage in 2009, with CRTs (TVs and monitors) being stored at the highest rates. Residential households store 5 times more computer products (by weight) than commercial establishments.
- Approximately 2.37 million short tons of electronics were ready for end-of-life management, representing an increase of more than 120% from 1999.
The good news is that, while the overall volume of electronics ready for end-of-life management has increased, the rate of electronics collected for recycling has also increased from an overall rate of 18% in 2007 to an overall rate of 25% in 2009, with computers collected at the highest rate (38%).