Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge: Recognition and Awards
Recognition is a key element of the EPA's Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Program and the Electronics Challenge. EPA is providing public recognition and awards to SMM Electronics Challenge participants for their commitment to sustainable materials management and recycling electronics responsibly.
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Electronics Challenge Awards are offered in two categories: Tier and Champion. Tier Awards are given to those who complete the requirements under a Gold, Silver or Bronze Tier.
Champion awards are given in three categories: Product, Program, and Cutting-Edge. The Product Award recognizes innovative and sustainable products designed for sale in the marketplace. The Program Award recognizes participants that have employed an innovative plan, strategy, or policy to use materials in a more environmentally responsible way throughout the life cycle. The Cutting-Edge Award recognizes participants for a new, game-changing idea in electronics sustainability.
New, this year, EPA presented a Special Award to those participants that made special efforts to continue electronics sustainability practices during the COVID-19 pandemic. These companies created safe ways to recover electronics and support underserved communities.
In 2019, the combined efforts of the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge participants achieved notable environmental results. By rethinking business as usual and committing to innovative and responsible end-of-life electronics management, Electronics Challenge participants collectively:
- Diverted 176,494 tons of end-of-life electronics from the landfill, 100% of which was sent to third-party certified recyclers, and;
- Avoided the equivalent of nearly 500,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.
This is equal to any one of the following:
- Taking more than 100,000 passenger vehicles off the road for one year;
- Generating enough electricity for more than 50,000 U.S. homes for one year; or
- Replacing almost 19 million incandescent lamps with LEDs.
Environmental benefits calculated using the following tool:
EPA is pleased to announce the 2020 Electronics Challenge Tier Award winners and Champion Award winners:
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|Active Participants||Tier Award|
|LG Electronics USA, Inc.||Gold|
|Sony Electronics, Inc.||Gold|
|TCL North America||Gold|
Details on the 2020 Champion Award Winners
Dell Technologies, Winner, Product Category
This year’s Product Category Award goes to Dell for the company’s 13-inch Dell Latitude 7300 25th Anniversary Edition (AE) laptop that is full of sustainable features, including up to 27 hours of battery life. Some of the other key sustainable components are:
- Ocean-bound plastic (25%) and recycled HDPE plastic (75%) are used in the packaging trays. The ocean-bound plastic comes from beaches, waterways, and other coastal locations in Indonesia, helping keep this plastic waste out of the oceans and return it to the economy.
- Uses reclaimed carbon fiber from aerospace manufacturing scraps in the LCD cover, preventing more than two million pounds of carbon fiber from ending up in the landfill, increasing its recycled content to 18% and reducing the product’s weight.
- Designed components to be easily replaced and recycled at end of life cycle. For example, the product is assembled using snap fits and uniform screws that can be opened with commonly available tools. In addition, Dell designed this laptop with paints and coating for plastics that are compatible with recycling and labelled plastics parts over 25 grams per ISO 11469 standard to facilitate identification and segregation for recycling.
- Partnered with Conservation Fund, a United States-based nonprofit that works to protect the U.S.’s land and water resources, to protect a portion of Garcia River Forest in Northern California in perpetuity
- Uses 100% waterborne paints, reducing VOC emissions by 89%, creating a safer work environment
- Achieved EPEAT 2018 Silver and qualified for ENERGY STAR®
This product is the latest in their innovative products that contain post-consumer recycled content plastics that started in 2008. Since then, the company has used reclaimed carbon fiber, recycled e-waste plastics, and ocean-bound plastic packaging. More recently, it started a pilot to use recycled rare earth metals in its products.
Samsung Electronics, Winner, Program Category
Samsung received the Program Category Award for introducing a sustainable packaging design to the Galaxy S10 smartphone. Samsung eliminated plastic bags for some of their components, and altered the design of some components by replacing the glossy exterior with a matte finish, allowing the company to eliminate plastic protection films. In addition, only certified sustainably sourced pulp, cardboard, and paper is used for the cellphone’s packaging box and for the user’s guide. The Galaxy S10’s printed material used less ink by using eco-fonts, and used soybean oil inks instead of petroleum inks.
The enhanced packaging design has had impressive environmental results. It avoided 32 grams of packaging material from the S9 to the S10 smartphone by eliminating all plastics except for the screen protector and minimizing the remaining paper and molded pulp, resulting in a 16% packaging weight reduction. Samsung estimated that these changes led to an avoidance of 1,181 MTCO2e factored by sales in 2019.
Samsung has a multi-pronged approach to developing new innovations. First, Samsung conducts an annual materiality assessment to determine focus areas. For the environment, recycling and the circular economy have been identified as key issues. Next, to revamp product packaging, Samsung Electronics formed an internal task force involving a variety of departments, including design and development, purchasing, marketing and quality control to solicit a broad array of innovative packaging ideas. Finally, Samsung requires suppliers to use an eco-certification process which involves consideration of energy efficiency, resource efficiency and material composition.
Details on the 2020 Special Award Winners
Dell Technologies, Winner, Special Award
- Dell donated refurbished laptops to America’s public television stations to help pilot educational initiatives. Some of the laptops were refurbished by Dell’s Electronics Disposition Partners. Some even contained reclaimed carbon fiber.
TCL North America, Winner, Special Award
- TCL developed a successful formula for holding free electronics collection events safely and conveniently during the pandemic. TCL received 280 reservations in 24 hours and collected 12 tons of material at their test event in Colorado and scheduled five more events. Municipalities and recyclers TCL have worked with have expressed a desire to use the model.