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A Shared Responsibility Approach for Minimizing Environmental Impacts Posed by Electronic Products

A Shared Responsibility Approach for Minimizing Environmental Impacts Posed by Electronic Products

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A Shared Responsibility Approach for Minimizing Environmental Impacts Posed by Electronic Products

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  1. A Shared Responsibility Approach for Minimizing Environmental Impacts Posed by Electronic Products

  2. Outline • Concept of Shared Responsibility • Industry Role • Other Stakeholder Roles

  3. Concept of Shared Responsibility • Who is responsible for environmental impacts posed by products? • EU - Extended Producer Responsibility • US - Extended Product Responsibility • President’s Council on Sustainable Development, “Sustainable America: A New Consensus” at 38 (February 1996): Extended product responsibility is a “voluntary system in which manufacturers, suppliers, users, and disposers of products share responsibility for the environmental effects of products and waste streams.”

  4. Concept of Shared Responsibility • EPA has identified concerns with mandated producer responsibility and has advocated solutions involving all stakeholders. Elizabeth Cotsworth, Acting Director, Office of Solid Waste, “Product Responsibility: Promoting Voluntary Action,” Speech before the “Take It Back ‘99” Conference (May 14, 1999) • Studies comparing different methods of collection (e.g., retailer, reverse distribution, etc.) have found that municipal collection systems are the most cost efficient manner of collecting and managing discarded electronics. Austrian Electrical and Electronic Industries Association (FEEI), “Comparison of Systems for Collection/Recycling/Disposal of End-of-Life Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEEE), Economic Impact (July 1996)

  5. Position on Shared Responsibility • The environmental impacts of electronic products can be reduced during life cycle: • Design • Use • End-of-Life • Different stakeholders have key roles to play at each life cycle stage • Industry role most important during product design stage

  6. Industry Role - Design Stage • The greatest opportunity to minimize the environmental impacts of electronic products is at design stage • Key industry actions: • Minimization of materials of concern • Energy efficient design • Design for recycling, disassembly, reuse

  7. Materials of Concern Used in Electronics • Lead • 30% of tin-lead solder used to apply chips to boards • Glass used in computers and TVs screens as x-ray shielding • Although only 0.7% of total societal lead use, use has been significantly reduced • Mercury • Mercury is used in certain electronics as an energy efficient light source • Use has been significantly reduced over time • These materials provide key health, functionality, and environmental benefits!

  8. “Design for Reduced Materials of Concern” • There are currently no alternatives to lead in the frit, funnel, and neck of CRTs • 75% of US CRT glass industry has eliminated lead in panel glass • Industry adopting lead-free solders • alternatives include tin-silver, tin-copper • Challenges: Technical requirements, environmental trade-offs

  9. Examples: Company Efforts to Reduce Materials of Concern • Printed wiring boards in Sony’s MD Walkman and VAIO SR Series notebook computers use lead-free solders • In Hewlett Packard’s computers and servers, plastics > 25 grams do not contain halogenated flame retardants • Motorola’s Concorde cell phone contains significantly less lead and brominated flame retardants than predecessor Source: EIA DfE Compendium, available at:

  10. Examples: Industry Efforts to Reduce Materials of Concern • EIA’s DfE Compendium • • US EPA’s Design for Environment Program • Computer Displays, Printed Wiring Boards • • Partnership with Duke University Engineering Program

  11. “Design for Energy Efficiency” • The electronics industry is dedicated to the design, production, and marketing of energy-efficient products • Important to note trade-offs between functionality and energy efficiency • To evaluate products on energy efficiency, must compare “like” products • Sleep mode versus stand-by mode • More functional units versus basic units

  12. “Design for Recycling, Disassembly, Reuse” • Wherever feasible, designers have reduced the number of parts per product to make assembly and disassembly as easy as possible. • Apple, Dell, and HP all label plastics greater than 25 grams with standard recycling identification • In Sony’s Stereo-wide TV, number of parts have been reduced 30%.

  13. Industry Role at Other Stages • Use Stage • Promote the purchase of Energy Star products • End-of-Life Stage • Help provide collection and recycling opportunities for businesses and consumers • company programs • industry programs • retail programs • government programs

  14. Hewlett Packard • Internet based Mail in Program - allows consumers and businesses to recycle unwanted computers and equipment from any manufacturer • Fee varies depending on product/quantity • Information available on HP’s website: • Custom quote service available for commercial entities

  15. IBM • IBM PC Recycling Service- internet based mail in program allows consumers and businesses to recycle unwanted computers and equipment from any manufacturer • Fee: $29.99 • Information available on IBM’s website: •

  16. Dell • Dell offers a variety of ways to manage end-of-life computer equipment from any manufacturer • U.S. consumers can trade-in, donate or auction old PCs through DellExchange • • For business, educational and government customers, Dell Financial Services, L.P offers PC Recycling and Asset Recovery services •

  17. Sun Microsystems • Comprehensive recycling services to internal users and external customers • Information available at:

  18. Retail Initiatives • Best Buy held 10 collection events in 2002 • Collected 257,243 pounds of electronic • Will hold 15 more events in 2003 • Gateway awards consumer up to $50 when they buy new computer and donate old PC

  19. Company Sponsorship of Events • Several industry members actively sponsor recycling events • Some manufacturers underwrite cost of recycling their products • Others provide products as a collection incentive

  20. EIA Consumer Education Initiative Website • Provides consumers with information regarding local collection events and reuse/recycling opportunities • Averages 1000 hits per day!

  21. NEMA Education Efforts • Lamps - • Batteries -

  22. EIA Recycling Grants • October 2001 - EIA awarded three recycling grants • US EPA Region III • NERC • Florida • Canon, HP, JVC, Kodak, Nokia, Panasonic, Philips, Sharp, Sony, Thomson Multimedia funded grants

  23. Other Stakeholder Roles and Responsibilities • Use Stage • User: • Purchase Energy Star products • Do not disable settings • Turn off products when not in use • Government: • Set specifications that are stringent yet achievable • Encourage purchase via procurement policies • Environmental Groups: • Acknowledge that use stage is where greatest impacts can be minimized

  24. Industry Recycling Initiatives • Manufacturers of some types of products have voluntarily established recycling programs • Batteries – RBRC ( ) • Thermostats - Thermostat Recycling Corporation ( )

  25. Important to Keep Issue in Perspective Recycling is important and the electronics industry supports efforts to increase recycling, but the issue of “e-waste” should be kept in perspective: • According to EPA, E-waste is approx. 1% of overall waste stream (US EPA, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, EPA530-R-01-014, July 2001) • OECD has stated that most of environmental impacts posed by electronic products occurs during their production and use (AEA Technology, “Recovery of WEEE: Economic and Environmental Impacts: Final Report: A report produced for the European Commission DG XI at p. 84 (June 1997)) • Need to focus efforts and resources accordingly

  26. Important to Keep Issue in Perspective • Lead-bearing electronics can be disposed in landfills with minimal risk. • According to the OECD, “since elemental lead and lead compounds are stable, health concerns are minimal for a properly managed landfill with runoff and leachate controls.” OECD Risk Reduction Monograph No. 1, Lead at p. 63 (1993) • There is little evidence that electronics found in landfills are leaching lead. Clark Akatiff, Landfill Supervisor, City of Palo Alto, “Is this Ban Really Necessary? A Critical Investigation of the CRT Ban” Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) Western Regional Symposium, Lake Tahoe, NV, May 13-16, 2002

  27. Important to Keep Issue in Perspective • Electronics can be managed in incinerators with minimal emissions. • According to the OECD, “lead emissions from combustible and non-combustible components of municipal solid waste can be controlled with 99 percent or greater efficiency.” OECD Risk Reduction Monograph No. 1, Lead at p. 63 (1993). • Incinerator ash disposed in landfills does not leach in excess of the toxicity limits. Coalition on Resource Recovery and the Environment, “Final Characterization of Municipal Waste Combustion Ash, Ash Extracts and Leachates” (EPA Work Assignment Number 90, Contract 68-01-7310 (Feb. 1990) • Large municipal waste combustion units achieved reductions of 90.9 percent of lead and 95.1 percent of mercury following retrofit of MACT technology required under the Clean Air Act. EPA Memorandum, “Emissions from Large MWC Units at MACT Compliance,” (June 20, 2002)

  28. Important to Keep Issue in Perspective • Despite the critical nature of lead in electronics, electronics comprise just a small fraction of overall lead use. • According to one estimate, the electronics manufacturing sector accounts for only 0.7 percent of the annual U.S. domestic consumption of lead. T.E. Graedel and B.R. Allenby, Industrial Ecology at 173 (Prentice Hall 1995)

  29. Conclusion • Industry has responded to concerns about environmental impacts posed by electronics • Industry has greatest opportunity to minimize impacts during design stage • Industry actively pursuing such efforts • Industry actively partnering with others to minimize impacts at other stages as well. • Success will require effort by all stakeholders.