Frequent Questions about the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge
On September 22, 2012, EPA launched the SMM Electronics Challenge. The Challenge encourages electronics manufacturers, brand owners and retailers to strive to send 100 percent of the used electronics they collect from the public, businesses and within their own organizations to third-party certified electronics refurbishers and recyclers. The Challenge’s goals are to:
- Increase collection of electronic equipment for reuse and recycling;
- Help ensure responsible recycling of used electronics;
- Promote data transparency;
- Reduce environmental impacts across the entire life cycle of electronic products; and
- Conserve valuable resources and energy.
On this page:
- What awards can SMM Electronics Challenge participants receive?
- Have there been any changes to the SMM Electronics Challenge from 2017 to 2018?
- What are the 2018 SMM Electronics Challenge results?
- What was the contribution of SMM Electronics Challenge participants to the national electronics recycling total in 2015 (the most recent national data)?
- Why should we reuse and recycle used electronics?
- Does EPA post the data for each participant in the SMM Electronics Challenge? What information does EPA publicly post?
- Does EPA plan to involve new OEMs, brand owners and retailers in the Challenge?
Please find information on the kinds of awards that the EPA SMM Electronics Challenge distributes on our Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge: Recognition and Awards page.
Yes. The system that collects data submissions now provides the option to submit data on the number of electronic units collected in addition to the weight of electronics collected. EPA is concerned that only including weight data may lead to a conclusion that fewer electronics are collected over time, when decreases in collection weights may actually be a result of changes in the design of electronics to make them smaller and weigh less. Collecting both the weight of the material and the number of units may help address this issue.
In addition, EPA strengthened language in the Champion Awards application to make it clearer that a successful award proposal must address all information requested for each criterion and added new criteria for Product and Cutting-Edge applications to address end-of-life issues in the design phase.
The results of the 2018 SMM Electronics Challenge can be found on the Recognition and Awards page.
What was the contribution of SMM Electronics Challenge participants to the national electronics recycling total in 2015 (the most recent national data)?
SMM Electronics Challenge participants contributed more than 20.8% of total U.S. electronics recycling by weight in 2015 (which is the most recent national data). The 2015 Challenge total was 256,822 tons collected, and the 2015 national total recycled was 1,230,000 tons.
An important part of the Sustainable Materials Management approach is reducing our consumption of raw materials by maximizing product lifespans and recycling materials from one product to another. If not properly managed, some of the materials in our electronics may pose a risk to human health and the environment. Electronic products are made from valuable resources and highly engineered materials, including metals, plastics and glass, all of which require energy to mine and manufacture.
- One metric ton of circuit boards Exitcan contain 40 to 800 times the amount of gold and 30 to 40 times the amount of copper mined from one metric ton of ore in the US.
- Recycling facilities can recover 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium for every one million cell phones (PDF)(4pp, 324K, About PDF).
Does EPA post the data for each participant in the SMM Electronics Challenge? What information does EPA publicly post?
EPA does not post individual participant’s baseline data or annual data on the EPA website. EPA will post aggregate data from all SMM Electronics Challenge participants on its website. However, participants commit to publicly post most baseline and annual data elements on their respective websites.
EPA welcomes additional original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), brand owners and electronics retailers joining the Challenge. In 2018, three new members joined the Challenge: HP, TCL North America, and Sprint. We applaud the efforts by our current participants and look forward to continuing to work with them. If other OEMs, brand owners and retailers are interested in joining the Challenge, they should contact Janice Johnson (email@example.com, 703-308-7280).