Thursday, July 21, 2011

Electronic recycling, new opportunities for federal contracts.

Yesterday in Austin, at a certified electronics recycling plant, the CEOs of Dell and Sprint, and senior executives from Sony, joined the EPA, GSA, and White House Council on Environmental Quality, to release the Obama Administration’s new “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship.”

The new plan encompasses strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling. The administration hopes to promote the electronics recycling market and create jobs here at home. Dell, Sprint and Sony’s voluntary involvement creates high hopes of promoting environmentally sound management of used electronics. EPA also commits 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.

Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics every year. Inside these electronics are valuable precious metals and rare earth materials, as well as plastic and glass. United States is a global leader in designing and developing new and improved electronic technologies; but China is catching up as a powerhouse in electronics consumption. They are heavily investing in Africa and other places to mine for these precious metals and rare earth materials. Creating a responsible management system of electronics provides the U.S. an opportunity to create strong domestic electronics recycling market while preventing pollution at home and abroad; this also poise the U.S. to compete and thrive in the future of the electronics market in a scarce resource future.

The Administration promised to 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 will remove 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 will ensure that all electronics used by the Federal government are reused or recycled properly. This is huge news to those federal contracting businesses out there. I’ve consistently observed a trend towards sustainability in GSA schedules, if you are a veteran running a small business or thinking about running a business, this is a great opportunity to profit from sustainability.

In addition, EPA and GSA will promote development of new environmental performance standards for categories of electronic products not covered by current standards. Federal agencies will work together to identify methods for tracking used electronics for reuse and recycling.

The collaboration with Dell, Sprint and the industry aims to encourage businesses and consumers to recycle their electronics with certified recyclers, and for electronic recyclers to become certified. There are two third-party certification entities, R2 and E-Stewards. 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.

“The Nation’s largest single consumer of electronics, the Federal Government, will now be the Nation’s most responsible user of electronics. ”

GSA Administrator Martha Johnson.

(Note: The Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act of 1999 (Public Law 106-50) established an annual government-wide goal of not less than 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for participation by small business concerns owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans. As a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, SDVOSB, this new recycling plan is more incentive for veterans to take the lead and thrive in the sustainable market place.) 


More information on the EPA and industry collaboration: http://www.epa.gov/electronicsstrategy

More information on GSA’s electronic stewardship goals and promoting federal agencies’ purchasing Environmentally Preferable Products: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/187053

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