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 recycling electronics responsibly.

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Public Recognition

Participants will be publicly recognized on EPA's website as a registrant, new participant or active participant.

Stage Participation Status Posted on EPA website
Completion of SMM Electronics online registration Registrant
Baseline data submitted New Participant
Annual data submitted and reviewed by EPA Active Participant

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Awards

Electronics Challenge Awards are offered in two categories: Tier and Champion. Tier Awards are given in recognition of achieving of all the requirements under a Gold, Silver or Bronze Tier. Champion Awards are given in two categories: Product and Non-Product. For the purposes of the Champion Awards, a Product is an item that is manufactured, developed or refined for sale and is in the marketplace, while a Non-Product is an internal or external plan, strategy, or policy for an organization, as well as a service, program or item that is intended for individual sale to a consumer.

Apply for an Electronics Challenge Champion Award

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2015 Challenge Results and Award WinnersCongrats 2015 Electronics Challenge Award Winners

In 2014, 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 224,263 metric tons of end-of-life electronics from the landfill;
  • Sent 223,743 metric tons of end-of-life electronics to third-party certified recyclers; and
  • Avoided the emission of more than 588,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2014.

This is equal to any one of the following:

  • Taking over 112,000 passenger vehicles off of the road for one year;
  • Saving enough energy to power more than 73,000 U.S. homes for one year; or
  • The amount of carbon sequestered annually by more than 437,000 acres of U.S. forest.

Environmental benefits calculated using the following tools:

EPA is pleased to announce the 2015 Electronics Challenge Tier Award winners and Champion Award winners:

  • Tier Awards

    Electronics Challenge Tier Awards are given in recognition of achieving all the requirements under a Gold, Silver or Bronze Tier. Participants join at the level that best suits their organization, experience and ability. By meeting Tier requirements, participants receive Gold, Silver or Bronze award designations. We are pleased to recognize the following companies for their outstanding efforts in 2014 to advance the responsible management of used electronics through third-party certified recycling. The companies listed received the following Tier Awards.

    Active Participants Tier Award
    Best Buy Co., Inc. Gold
    Dell Inc. Gold
    LG Electronics USA, Inc. Gold
    Samsung Electronics Gold
    Sony Electronics Inc. Bronze
    Sprint Gold
    Staples, Inc. Gold
  • Champion Awards

    Champion Awards are given to Electronics Challenge participants who demonstrate the highest level of vision, coalition-building, and execution of programs and policies related to responsible used electronics management. Electronics Challenge Participants must apply for Champion Awards, which are given in two categories: Product and Non-Product. For the purposes of the Champion Awards, a Product is an item that is manufactured, developed or refined for sale and is in the marketplace, while a Non-Product is an internal or external plan, strategy, or policy for an organization, as well as a service, program or item that is intended for individual sale to a consumer. EPA is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2015 Electronics Challenge Champion Awards:

    Company Champion Award
    Dell Inc. Non-product
    Samsung Electronics Product
  • Details on the 2015 Award Winners

    Dell Inc., Winner, Non-Product Category

    Dell Inc. is recognized for its development of a closed loop program that uses plastics recovered from the Dell Reconnect recycling partnership with Goodwill in the U.S. to make new computers through the company’s manufacturing partner, Wistron. Wistron uses state-of-the-art technology to mix the recycled plastics with virgin materials that are then used for plastic parts in select Dell computers. This project is part of Dell’s long-term sustainability plan to achieve a waste-free packaging stream by 2020.

    Dell brought together worldwide recycling, logistics, and manufacturing partners for this program. Dell has partnered with Wistron to develop closed loop plastics, Goodwill to collect e-waste, YFY Jupiter to create wheat straw packaging, and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to identify sustainable solutions for e-waste management. Using recycled resin is not always as easy as expected since recycled resin is not a direct substitute for a virgin resin. Dell set an ambitious goal to use 50 million pounds of recycled content and other sustainable materials in its products by the year 2020 and has recycled 11 million pounds of closed loop plastics in displays and OptiPlex desktops in 2014.

    By closing the loop for plastics, Dell achieved the following environmental benefits in 2014:

    • Avoided 198,776 kilograms of CO2 equivalent or about 500,000 miles driven by an average passenger car;
    • Reused 2.89 million pounds of materials taken from the e-waste stream;
    • Collected 230.9 million pounds of used electronics from residential and business programs globally; and
    • Reduced costs, as a result of lower logistics and operations costs of processing plastics from e-waste.

    Dell demonstrated that this program is replicable by other electronics manufacturers. Not only does it provide easy take-back solutions for consumers through Goodwill, but it also helps to create jobs for people in need of work. For every computer donated, 6.8 hours of job training are provided to Goodwill employees. Dell’s leadership extends to closing the digital divide by building positive e-scrap collection in Africa. For example, Dell finances a woman entrepreneur who employs 27 trained women to safely collect e-waste from local businesses and homes in Nairobi’s Mukuru informal settlement.

    Samsung Electronics, Winner, Product Category

    Samsung Electronics is recognized for its vision to make the Galaxy S6 mobile phone, its packaging, and its accessories meet high environmental standards while maintaining its status as a high-end product. Samsung has reduced the carbon emissions in each consecutive S Series phone by an annual average of 14%. This aggregates to 58 billion kg CO2 since 2011— the equivalent of planting 4.7 million trees. The S6’s environmental features are highlighted below:

    Packaging made with recycled materials

    While many of today’s electronics come in packaging made from non-recyclable plastics, Samsung found a simple solution to the problem by making 100% of its packaging from recycled cardboard, from the box to the user’s manual. This feature is anticipated to prevent the logging of 77,000 trees (based on 2014 sales numbers).

    Labels printed with soy ink

    Instead of using petroleum-based inks, Samsung uses soy-based inks in their packaging labels. Soy-based inks are:

    • Made from a renewable resource
    • Biodegradable
    • Easier to remove before recycling paper

    Battery chargers partially made of recycled plastic

    Samsung took an important stride by making the S6’s battery charger with 20 percent recycled plastic. Due to the research and development team’s perseverance and ingenuity, the charger’s durability was not compromised and Samsung was able to overcome an “engineering preference for virgin materials.”

    Features for longer life

    Samsung’s design team worked to overcome a hurdle in the battery capability of the phone that resulted in greater innovation and improved battery charging. The Galaxy S6 allows users to conserve power when they want by using the Power Saving Mode and Ultra Power Saving Mode, which disables most apps and changes screen colors to grayscale. Increasing the warranty to two years is also a clear signal to consumers that cell phones do not have to be replaced annually. Since the most common reason for replacing a mobile phone is a cracked screen from impact damage, Samsung used the new Gorilla Glass 4, which is more durable and resistant to scratches. This will further extend the life of the phone.

    Responsible End of Life Management

    Samsung’s Recycling Direct program ensures that waste processed will not be exported to developing countries, will not use forced child or prison labor in processing, and will not be dumped in municipal landfills. In addition to supporting a responsible network of recyclers, Samsung developed the Galaxy S6 with a recyclability rate of 99.9% and provides an online prepaid cell phone return option for customers to ship the phone back to Samsung for responsible recycling free of charge.

    Samsung achieved its vision by collaborating with a diverse group of internal and external stakeholders, and through a wide variety of approaches including forums, inquiries, surveys, advisory groups, and specialized internal communications departments that address the needs and expectations of each stakeholder.


2014 Challenge Information

In 2013, the efforts of the SMM Electronics Challenge participants resulted in the following achievements:

  • Diverted 221,192 metric tons of end-of-life electronics from the landfill;
  • Sent 220,531 metric tons of end-of-life electronics to third-party certified recyclers; and
  • Avoided more than 41,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2013 by increasing certified recycling by 15,588 metric tons, or 7.6 percent since 2012.

This increase is equal to any one of the following:

  • Taking over 8,500 passenger vehicles off of the road for one year;
  • Saving enough energy to power more than 3,700 U.S. homes for one year; or
  • The amount of carbon sequestered annually by more than 33,500 acres of U.S. forest.
  • 2014 Challenge Results

    Tier Awards

    Electronics Challenge Tier Awards are given in recognition of achieving all the requirements under a Gold, Silver or Bronze Tier. Participants join at the level that best suits their organization, experience and ability. By meeting Tier requirements, participants receive Gold, Silver or Bronze award designations. We are pleased to recognize the following companies for their outstanding efforts in 2013 to advance the responsible management of used electronics through third-party certified recycling. The companies listed received the following Tier Awards.

    Active Participants Tier Award
    Best Buy Co., Inc. Gold
    Dell Inc. Gold
    LG Electronics USA, Inc. Gold
    Panasonic Corporation of North America Gold
    Samsung Electronics Gold
    Sony Electronics Inc. Bronze
    Sprint Gold
    Staples, Inc. Gold

    Champion Awards

    Champion Awards are given to Electronics Challenge participants who demonstrate the highest level of vision, coalition-building, and execution of programs and policies related to responsible used electronics management. Electronics Challenge Participants must apply for Champion Awards, which are given in two categories: Product and Non-Product. For the purposes of the Champion Awards, a Product is an item that is manufactured, developed or refined for sale and is in the marketplace, while a Non-Product is an internal or external plan, strategy, or policy for an organization, as well as a service, program or item that is intended for individual sale to a consumer. EPA is pleased to announce the following recipients of the 2014 Electronics Challenge Champion Awards:

    Company Champion Award
    Best Buy Co., Inc. Non-product
    Dell Inc. Product
    Sprint Non-product
    Samsung Electronics

    Non-Product

    Honorable mention

    Details on the 2014 Award Winners

    Best Buy Co., Inc., Winner, Non-Product Category

    Best Buy Co., Inc. is recognized for the convenient collection and recycling services it provides to the general public as well as its internal and external communications strategies that led to a successful electronics recycling program.

    Best Buy's collection strategy includes both used consumer electronics - regardless of age, brand or where the device was originally purchased – and used consumer appliances. By offering free recycling at all 1,100 Best Buy retail locations, Best Buy offers convenience and accessibility for the American consumer. As of January 2014, Best Buy collected 909 million pounds of consumer goods, including 467 million pounds of used electronics.

    Best Buy also implements a number of internal and external communication efforts about the value of recycling. Best Buy trains and motivates employees through its Standard Operating Procedures and through a video entitled, "Why Best Buy Recycles." These programs ensure that all employees understand Best Buy's recycling program and can communicate it to its customers. The recent launch of the video "Why Best Buy Recycles" to the public has received more than 800,000 views to-date, indicating the message about the importance of recycling is being widely distributed. In addition, Best Buy's webpage not only makes it easy to find collection points, but also notes how much material was collected in each state.

    Best Buy's convenient and accessible recycling locations, internal and external communication efforts about the value of recycling, and comprehensive and successful recycling program are helping to ensure the responsible management of used electronics across the country.

    Dell Inc., Winner, Product Category

    Dell Inc. is recognized for its innovative use of wheat straw, a fast-growing renewable material, as a packaging material in the company's cardboard boxes, as well as its other efforts to achieve a waste-free packaging stream by 2020.

    Dell's use of wheat straw - which otherwise would be disposed of as a waste - as a sustainable packaging material that can be recycled as if it were composed entirely of paper-based corrugated cardboard. Dell also includes a video and information about wheat straw on its website, which allows consumers to understand the process, impacts, and recyclability of this material.

    The wheat straw project is one part of Dell's long-term sustainability plan to achieve a waste-free packaging stream by 2020. Other efforts include the use of bamboo cushions in place of foam for shipping lightweight products such as notebooks, and the use of mushrooms as an alternative to Styrofoam for heavier products such as servers.

    Together, the use of these sustainable packaging materials in Dell's products is helping to redefine electronics packaging in the U.S., bringing greater awareness to the consumer about the importance of considering all environmental impacts associated with their electronics purchase, including the packaging used to safely protect their device before it reaches the consumer.

    Sprint, Winner, Non-Product Category

    Sprint is recognized for its innovative and forward-thinking electronics stewardship policy, for bringing attention to the importance of electronics recycling by breaking the "Guinness Word Record" for the Most Cell Phones Recycled in One Week, and for its global efforts to promote the responsible management of used electronics.

    Sprint is the first telecom provider in the U.S. to publish an Electronics Stewardship policy addressing the full life cycle of the electronics it buys and sells, from design through end-of-life. Sprint has helped to drive industry efforts to develop a sustainable mobile devices standard that covers aspects ranging from material choices and energy use to end-of-life management. Sprint implemented an ambitious goal of collecting nine devices for reuse or recycling for every 10 sold annually by 2017, and is bringing attention to the importance of electronics recycling by breaking the "Guinness World Record" for the Most Cell Phones Recycled in One Week, collecting 103,582, which more than doubled the previous record.

    Sprint's efforts to promote the responsible management of used electronics globally include mentoring other wireless carriers around the world to increase the implementation of buy-back programs in other markets; using its leadership role as part of the CTIA, the Wireless Association, to champion the first industry-wide recycling goal; and helping to promote and fund the first-ever E-Waste Academy in Accra, Ghana.

    Sprint's innovative electronics stewardship policy, world-record for most cell phones recycled in one week, and global efforts to promote responsible electronics management, demonstrate that Sprint is a global leader in its field.

    Samsung Electronics, Honorable Mention, Non-Product Category

    Samsung Electronics is recognized as an Honorable Mention for its Samsung Recycling Direct e-waste recycling program, which has already recycled more than 300 million pounds of used electronics since its creation in 2008, and which continues to show increasing results. The Samsung Recycling Direct program goals include widespread support of recycling options for consumers, industry collaboration to create fair and cost-efficient operations, and best practices to drive responsible recycling.

    Samsung is helping consumers across the country recycle their electronics by offering collection in 50 states at more than 900 fixed locations, as well as a mail-back program through its website. Samsung works in conjunction with government agencies and NGO partners on e-waste solutions and transparency, and encourages other manufacturer programs to process more e-waste nationally by sharing best practices.

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