Frequent Questions about the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge
We are grateful for the dedication of our Electronics Challenge partners and their efforts to reduce and divert waste. EPA is planning to evolve our Sustainable Materials Management partnership programs to align with our new priorities. At this time, we are no longer accepting new Electronics Challenge partners. Please visit our website to learn more about how to engage with us as we re-imagine our partnership efforts for the future.
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 using third-party certified recyclers;
- Promote data transparency and accountability through public posting of electronics collection and recycling data; and
- Reduce environmental impacts across the entire life cycle of electronic products.
On this page:
- What awards can SMM Electronics Challenge participants receive?
- What are the 2020 SMM Electronics Challenge results?
- What was the contribution of SMM Electronics Challenge participants to the national electronics recycling total in 2018 (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.
The results of the 2020 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 2018 (the most recent national data)?
SMM Electronics Challenge participants contributed 19 percent of total U.S. electronics recycling by weight in 2018 (which is the most recent national data). The 2020 Challenge total was more than 158,000 tons collected. In 2018, the United States generated some 2.7 million tons of electronics waste. Of that amount, 38.5 percent was recycled, with the remainder combusted with energy recovery or landfilled.
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 can 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.
We are grateful for the dedication of our SMM Electronics Challenge participants and their efforts to reduce and divert waste. EPA is planning to evolve our Sustainable Materials Management partnership programs to align with our new Circular Economy Strategy Series. At this time, we are no longer accepting new SMM Electronics Challenge participants. EPA does encourage stakeholders to get involved, take actions and stay engaged to help us create a stronger, more resilient, and cost-effective U.S. municipal solid waste recycling system and to create a circular economy for all. To learn about engagement opportunities, please visit our website.