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Leading By Example Toward the Jobs of the Future

Yesterday in Austin, Texas, the Obama Administration released its “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” – a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the burgeoning electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here at home.
E-Waste Crate

(Left to right): GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson; White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley; EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. (Photo by Eric Vance, US EPA)

Yesterday in Austin, Texas, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, General Services Administrator Martha N. Johnson, and White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley joined the CEOs of Dell Inc. and Sprint, and a senior executive from Sony Electronics to release the Obama Administration’s "National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship" – a framework for responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling that will promote the burgeoning electronics recycling market and jobs of the future here at home. The announcement, made at Round2 Recycling Facility, included the first voluntary commitments made by Dell, Sprint and Sony with EPA aimed at promoting environmentally sound management of used electronics. The Administration's strategy also commits the Federal Government to take specific actions that will encourage 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.

The E-Waste Gang

(Left to right): GSA Administrator Martha N. Johnson; Round2 Recycling CEO Randy Weiss; Mark Small, Vice President for Corporate Environment, Safety and Health, Sony Electronics Inc.; White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley; Sprint CEO Dan Hesse; EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson; Dell Inc. CEO Michael Dell. (Photo by Eric Vance, US EPA)

The response has been quite positive. See some statements of support below from various business leaders, advocacy groups and Members of Congress:

John Shegerian, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO, Electronic Recyclers International, Inc. (ERI)
"ERI is encouraged to see that the Federal government is leading the way by establishing a policy to utilize only certified recyclers for its electronics processing, increase U.S. jobs, and reduce harm from U.S. exports of e-waste. As an R2 and e-Stewards certified company, ERI supports the safe handling of recycling electronics here in the U.S. and abroad and looks forward to working with the Federal government in promoting scientific and technological developments to improve the electronics recycling process and maximize the recovery of valuable materials from discarded electronics."

Willie Cade, CEO, PC Rebuilders & Recyclers, LLC.
"The release yesterday of the 'National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship' by the Obama Administration is a meaningful and positive step forward in solving the e-Waste problem. The strategy clearly shows that the Administration spent considerable time and effort listening, digesting and planning. This will prove to be a very successful jobs creation and sustainability or 'Green' program…This is the first comprehensive sustainability strategy in our nation's history."

Walter Alcorn, Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Industry Sustainability
"Electronics recycling is a national problem that deserves a national solution. Today's announcement from EPA, GSA and CEQ echoes the principles our industry laid out this spring with the eCycling Leadership Initiative. We look forward to continuing our dialogue with EPA, GSA and CEQ in the hopes of fortifying a robust public-private partnership that ensures consumers across our nation have ample opportunities to recycle electronics responsibly. A formidable partnership is the best way to develop a national approach to eCycling that replaces the patchwork of costly and confusing state regulations."

Robin Wiener, President, The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI)
"Our federal government is the largest source of used and end-of-life electronics. It is encouraging to see that the government is taking a strong position on the responsible management of these materials. Even more, we are encouraged by the Obama Administration's flat dismissal of burdensome and overreaching legislation that would ban exports and pull the rug out from under an industry that continues to create jobs and contribute to both the U.S. and global economy. Today's announcement includes practical, effective steps that actually address bad actors instead of shutting down an industry."

Don-Michael Bradford, PhD, CE, President and CEO, Pacific Federal Energy Systems
"Your very important written policy framework will enable companies such as ours [which recycles e-waste] to show the investment community that the government is serious about providing a value-added solution to the growing eWaste problem in the US."

Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, Solid Waste Project Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
"The export of unprocessed electronic wastes from the United States to the developing world must end because electronic wastes contain many toxic substances. Indeed, exporting of unprocessed electronic wastes is the number one environmental problem plaguing e-waste management in the United States. The Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship report has recognized this as a global problem and the good news is that recycling e-waste domestically creates new jobs and stimulates wider economic development more generally. Consequently, what all municipalities, businesses, and all generators of e waste must take away from today's Task Force report is that used electronic wastes must be recycled domestically for both economic and public health reasons. However, the single largest generator of electronic wastes in the United States is the federal government itself, and it must lead by example and assure that all of its e-waste is recycled domestically as well."

Congressmen Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Gene Green (D-TX)
"We are pleased that the Obama Administration is committed to addressing the growing issue of electronics waste, which now represents the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. Furthermore, we applaud the President for working not only with government agencies, but also the private sector to identify potential challenges and solutions to our e-waste problem. Private industry's perspective will be invaluable as we continue to develop workable and responsible e-waste policies."

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Co-Chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus and Chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management
"As the largest purchaser of consumer goods in our country, the Federal government has an opportunity and a responsibility to ensure that it procures electronics in the safest, smartest way possible. The Obama Administration's announcement today of a 'National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship' leverages the purchasing power of the Federal government to support responsible purchasing, management and recycling of electronics within the Federal government. Through this initiative, the Federal government will work 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. As Co-Chair of the Senate Recycling Caucus and as Chair of the Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, I warmly welcome the Administration's move to bolster electronics recycling and believe it will help not only our environment but also our economy along the way."

Sahar Wali is the Director of Communications at the White House Council on Environmental Quality