U.S. government tackles its e-waste problem

The U.S. federal government has proposed a new rule to more aggressively manage the recycling, reuse and disposal of electronic goods. Landfill or incineration of e-waste will no longer be allowed.

With around 2.7 million employees, the U.S. federal government is the country’s largest consumer – and disposer – of electronics, reports Triple Pundit. The General Services Administration (GSA), the department of the U.S. federal government responsible for purchasing electronics for federal employees, has proposed a new rule to make the federal government more responsible in how it treats e-waste.

According to Triple Pundit, electronics must be reused rather than incinerated or dumped into landfills. Federal agencies will first have to offer unwanted equipment to other federal government offices. If those efforts fail, they will have to donate them to local and state governments, schools or non-profit organisations or sell them. Any electronics that they cannot offer for reuse will have to be recycled by companies certified by R2 and e-stewards, the only two recycling standards certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Critics of these new measures point out that while this is an improvement over current policies, they do not go far enough. For instance, the rule only encourages – but does not obligate – the recipients of the federal government’s electronics to follow the reuse and recycling procedures, the result of which is that many of these electronics will still likely end up in landfills at the end of their life.

 

Photo credit: Mosman Council/Creative Commons

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