The U.S. government will push its electronics suppliers to provide energy-efficient and easily recycled products under a new policy released Wednesday.
The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship calls for the U.S. General Services Administration to remove electronics that don't meet environmental standards from its list of approved items that agencies can buy, officials with President Barack Obama's administration said. GSA will approve only electronics that meet
Energy Star or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) standards, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said.
The new strategy also directs U.S. agencies to buy, reuse and recycle electronics responsibly, and to use certified recyclers to dispose of electronics. The strategy calls for agencies to step up their efforts to track government electronics after they are disposed of.
The U.S. government needs to lead by example in the area of energy efficiency and e-recycling, officials said. "The nation's largest single consumer of electronics, the federal government, will now be the nation's most responsible user of electronics," Johnson said.
The new strategy also aims to promote the U.S. e-recycling industry, with the government promoting e-recycling options for consumers, said Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"All of these things are important for our health and our environment," Jackson said during a news conference. "And, as so often happens when you combine environmental protection and innovation, they are also good for our economy. Hundreds of jobs can be created to process and recycle these electronics."
Executives with Dell and Sprint Nextel committed to support the U.S. e-recycling industry during an event in Austin, Texas, to announce the new strategy. Representatives of Sony Electronics also committed to improve safe e-recycling efforts, the EPA said.
U.S. businesses and consumers generate 2.5 tons of discarded electronics each year, the EPA said. Many of the electronics are shipped overseas, where they are broken down in unsafe conditions, Jackson said.
Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is [email protected]