EPA’s challenge aims to increase recycling by electronics manufacturers, retailers

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ready to roll out its Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge, a program aimed at increasing “responsible management of used electronics,” the agency says.

Suzanne Rudzinski, Director of the EPA Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, wrote to possible stakeholders about the program last week.

“The objective of the SMM Electronics Challenge is to advance the responsible management of used electronics by challenging manufacturers and retailers to voluntarily commit to sending 100 percent of used electronics collected for reuse and recycling to third party certified recyclers, increasing the total amount of used electronics collected for reuse and recycling, and publicly posting information and data,” she writes.

The program will have a full-publicity launch later this summer.

The program will have basic requirements for all program participants, and then three levels of advanced participation for manufacturers and retailers. To be part of the program, the companies must commit to:

  • Send 100% of used electronics collected from all collection streams (e.g., consumers and business) to recyclers or refurbishers that have been certified to a recognized third-party certification program no later than the end of the third year of participation.
  • Submit baseline data within 90 days of registration.
  • Submit annual data, according to participation tier, to EPA.
  • Post goals and data on the participant’s Web site.

Manufacturers or retailers taking part on the “bronze” level must: establish a permanent collection program for consumer and business equipment; increase the amount of electronics sent to a certified third-party recycler by 10 percent by the end of the first year; publish yearly goals for public education and outreach; and other requirements.

Silver-level participation requires a collection program that is sending 50 -95 percent by weight of the total amount of used electronics collected from all streams for recycling or reuse to third-party certified recycling vendors, along with other, more stringent requirements, while gold participation status is extremely stringent and begins by requiring programs send 96 -100 percent by weight of the total amount of used electronics collected from all streams for recycling and reuse to third-party certified recycling vendors, and are going above and beyond third-party certification standards.

For the program, the EPA is including recycling, refurbishment and reuse as part of its definition of “recycling program” and is recognizing R2 and e-Stewards as acceptable recycling standards, but may recognize additional standards at a later date.

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