At an event today, in Londonderry, NH, EPA’s regional administrator Curt Spalding, General Services regional administrator Bob Zarnetske and other state and local officials toured a New England electronics recycler as part of the Obama Administration’s “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” — a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that promotes the burgeoning electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here in the US.
The event at RMG Enterprise exemplifies EPA’s partnership with industry aimed at promoting environmentally sound management of used electronics, which goes hand in hand with creating green jobs. RMG is a leader in e-waste recovery and recycling and part of the R2 certification program – a third party certification promoting environmentally responsible practices in the electronics recycling industry. RMG manages e-waste generated by a variety of clients including, the electronics product stewardship programs in both the States of Rhode Island and Connecticut. The company employs 25 people, and expects to hire an additional 10-12 workers over the next 6-9 months to meet increased production demands.
The product stewardship programs in RI and CT are the result of state specific laws requiring that discarded electronics be collected for proper disposal including reuse and/or recycling. Over 25 States have extended product responsibility (EPR) laws that require manufacturers to finance the costs of recycling or safe disposal of their electronic products.
“A growing electronic recycling industry has great environmental and economic potential–it makes addressing pollution profitable while also creating green jobs,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “We applaud industry leaders like RMG Enterprise. The participation of industry as well as government is essential to the success of this effort.”
This event follows the recent voluntary commitment from Dell, Sprint and Sony to promote certified recycling, protect public health, and support best practices in electronics stewardship. Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has also committed the federal government to take specific actions that will encourage the more environmentally friendly design of electronic products, promote recycling of used or discarded electronics, and advance a domestic market for electronics recycling that will protect public health and create jobs.
“E-cycling is good public policy and it’s good business. Companies all over the country are proving that environmental stewardship can be profitable,” said Bob Zarnetske, regional administrator of GSA’s New England office. “This is an important emerging market and the federal government is here to help this industry grow jobs and improve the way we handle our resources.”
“Since 2007 New Hampshire has banned the disposal of certain electronics in our trash to keep the heavy metals contained in many of these products from polluting our water bodies and our air. The National Strategy for Electronic Stewardship initiative will create more opportunities for the safe recycling of electronics. DES is working cooperatively with our federal partners and the New Hampshire business community to help achieve the goals of this new national strategy,” said Tom Burack, NH Department of Environmental Services Commissioner.
“We’re very honored to host the tour and are excited to see the electronics recycling industry recognized at the National level,” said Bob Gallinaro, President of RMG Enterprise. “Certification of electronics recyclers promotes best practices to protect the environment, and it provides businesses and consumers with a means of identifying a qualified service provider. Support from the federal government will most certainly direct the waste stream to responsible recyclers enabling their growth and strengthening the industry.”
Every year, Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics, which are made from valuable resources such as precious metals and rare earth materials, as well as plastic and glass. From computers and cell phones, to portable communication and music devices – United States is, and will continue to be, a global leader in designing and developing new and improved electronic technologies. The responsible management of electronics provides an opportunity to create economic development and jobs by developing a strong domestic electronics recycling market while preventing pollution at home and abroad.
As outlined in the strategy report, the federal government will:
· 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.
GSA is also removing products that do not comply with comprehensive and robust energy efficiency or environmental performance standards – from its information technology purchase contracts used by federal agencies, and are ensuring that all electronics used by the Federal government are reused or recycled properly. In addition, EPA and GSA are promoting the development of new environmental performance standards for categories of electronic products not covered by current standards. Several federal agencies are working together to identify methods for tracking used electronics in Federal agencies to move toward reuse and recycling.
A key component of this strategy includes the use of certified recyclers and increasing safe and effective management and handling of used electronics in the United States and working with industry in a collaborative manner to achieve that goal.
The collaboration with industry aims to encourage businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers, and for electronic recyclers to become certified. There are two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, R2 and E-Stewards. The electronics recycling industry is increasingly embracing these certification programs. Certified recyclers are regularly audited by these certification entities to ensure that electronics are recycled in a manner that is safe for human health and the environment. As demonstrated in the event at Metech today, EPA continues to work with industry partners and encourages other companies to use certified recylcers to help grow the domestic recycling market, create the green jobs of the future in the United States and educate consumers.