Voluntary Initiatives

The following is an overview of various voluntary initiatives and partnership programs focused on electronics product stewardship. Some of the links below will take you directly to relevant sections of the SEI fact sheet, "Electronic Take-Back and Donation Programs." Note that since SEI is based in the United States, all programs listed below are U.S. programs, unless listed under the heading "Foreign Initiatives."

Public Sector Programs

U.S. EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) Program: According to the U.S. EPA web site, "The Design for the Environment (DfE) Program works in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders to reduce risk to people and the environment by preventing pollution. DfE focuses on industries that combine the potential for chemical risk reduction and improvements in energy efficiency with a strong motivation to make lasting, positive changes. DfE convenes partners, including industry representatives and environmental groups, to develop goals and guide the work of the partnership. Partnership projects evaluate the human health and environmental considerations, performance, and cost of traditional and alternative technologies, materials, and processes. As incentives for participation and driving change, DfE offers unique technical tools, methodologies, and expertise." The DfE Program has produced several partnership projects related to electronics. Past projects include the Printed Wiring Board Partnership and the Computer Display Partnership. Current partnerships include the Lead-Free Solder Partnership, the Wire & Cable Partnership, and the Flame Retardants in Printed Circuit Boards Partnership. Each project site includes general project information, project milestones, links to any publications produced and a list of the partners involved.

ENERGY STAR: A joint effort of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy, this program promotes energy-efficient products through labeling and education programs. See the Home Electronics and Office Equipment pages in particular; other portions of the ENERGY STAR web site may have information on appliances or devices that involve electronic components.

Federal Electronics Challenge (FEC): FEC is a partnership program that encourages federal facilities and agencies to: purchase greener electronic products; reduce impacts of electronic products during use; and manage obsolete electronics in an environmentally responsible manner. FEC is managed by the U.S. EPA and the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive.

State Electronics Challenge (SEC): Modeled after the Federal Electronics Challenge, the State Electronics Challenge encourages state, tribal, regional, and local governments, including schools and other public entities, to responsibly manage office equipment, by purchasing greener office equipment, reducing the impacts of these products during use, and managing obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way. The SEC provides resources to assist organizations in the public sector, as well as private schools and colleges, who sign up as "Partners" to become leaders and address the challenges posed by electronics. Partners can achieve recognition for their accomplishments. SEC is administered by the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

Plug-In to eCycling Campaign/SMM Electronics Challenge: Plug-In to eCycling was a partnership program between EPA and electronic manufacturers, retailers, and mobile service providers to increase awareness on ecycling and offer consumers more opportunities to donate or recycle their used electronics. The Plug-In To eCycling Guidelines for Materials Management were developed as voluntary guidelines for sound reuse and recycling of e-waste. This program has evolved into the Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Electronics Challenge. http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/smm/images/bnr_elctrncs.jpg

Under the SMM Electronics Challenge, EPA is challenging manufacturers and retailers to voluntarily commit to sending 100 percent of used electronics collected for reuse and recycling to third-party certified recyclers, and increase the total amount of used electronics collected. EPA is providing for a transparent and measurable way for electronic companies to publicly show the degree of progress they make towards reuse and recycling goals. This new program allows for participants to join at any level that best suits their organization's experience and abilities - regardless of their starting baseline. Participants may gradually increase their commitment to a level that shows outstanding leadership in ensuring responsible management of used electronics during reuse and recycling.

Non-profit Initiatives

Basel Action Network: BAN primarily works to combat and raise awareness of the export of toxic wastes and products from industrialized nations to developing countries. It is a charitable organization based in Seattle, WA, USA, that acts on a global level. Named after the Basel Convention, BAN promotes the Convention and its decisions. Its e-Stewards program provides lists of electronics recyclers that have taken a pledge against the export, land dumping, incineration, and use of prison labor for toxic components. BAN is teaming up with the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB) to launch an accredited, 3rd party audited certification system for electronics recyclers. The certification is in the final stages of development and it is estimated that the first certifications will take place in 2009 with a full launch of the certification program to all comers in early 2010.

Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT): Managed by the Green Electronics Council, EPEAT is a system to help purchasers evaluate, compare and select electronic products based on their environmental attributes. The system currently covers desktop and laptop computers, workstations and computer monitors. The EPEAT assessment tool was originally developed by the Zero Waste Alliance with a grant from U.S. EPA Region 10. Various stakeholders are involved in developing EPEAT standards, including government, public and private institutional purchasers, academia, manufacturers, trade associations, recyclers and non-profit organizations.

Electronics TakeBack Coalition (ETBC): ETBC promotes green design and responsible recycling in the electronics industry. Its goal is to protect the health and well being of electronics users, workers, and the communities where electronics are produced and discarded by requiring consumer electronics manufacturers and brand owners to take full responsibility for the life cycle of their products, through effective public policy requirements or enforceable agreements. ETBC plans to accomplish this goal by establishing extended producer responsibility (EPR) as the policy tool to promote sustainable production and consumption of consumer electronics (all products with a circuit board). Its initial focus is on establishing EPR for personal computers.

Product Stewardship Institute-Electronics: The Product Stewardship Institute (PSI) is working with state and local government agencies to pass electronics product stewardship legislation, and is also working with U.S. Congressional leaders to develop national electronics waste management legislation that will be consistent with state laws. In December 2000, PSI held the country's first national Product Stewardship Forum and focused on electronic products, among five priority waste streams. From this forum grew the National Electronics Product Stewardship Initiative (NEPSI), which became the country's first national discussion among electronics manufacturers, state and local government agencies, recyclers, and non-governmental organizations. The goal was to develop a written agreement among stakeholders that would increase the collection, reuse, and recycling of used electronic products, and include a sustainable financing system. The NEPSI dialogue was coordinated by the University of Tennessee, which received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Although it did not result in a national agreement, NEPSI became the first dialogue, along with the national carpet discussions, in which industry consciously committed to take a product stewardship approach.

Foreign Initiatives

Latin America
Electronic Waste Regional Platform in Latin America and the Caribbean (Plataforma RELAC): A voluntary initiative working with local businesses and government organization to decrease eWaste in Latin America and the Caribbean. Note: This web site is in Spanish.

WErecycle: An organization dedicated to the recycling and refurbishing of old computers along with the objective to decrease e-waste

Solid Waste Management Company Limited (SWMCOL) in Trinidad and Tobago

If you would like to suggest voluntary initiatives not mentioned above for inclusion on this page, please contact Joy Scrogum.