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  • The business case for sustainable electronics
    People have become nearly inseparable from their smartphones, tablets and laptops. And they eagerly await the release of newer devices promising faster processing, better screen resolution, more apps, more functionality, more everything. The magnitude of the market for digital devices is staggering. It's estimated that by 2020, 5.5 billion people will own a mobile phone and over 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet. To put it in perspective, by that same time, it's estimated that only 3.5 billion people will have running water. But the electronics industry is also evolving -- and it has to in order to stay competitive. Source: GreenBiz, 6/8/16
  • Organizations disapprove of Pennsylvania's electronics recycling legislation and proposed amendment
    Five of Pennsylvania's recycling, litter and waste management organizations representing key stakeholder factions affected by the 2010 Covered Device Recycling Act (CDRA) have united in disapproval of CDRA and its proposed amendment, House Bill 1900. The Electronics Recycling Association of Pennsylvania (ERAP), Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB), the Pennsylvania Recycling Markets Center (RMC), the Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania (PROP) and the Keystone Chapter of the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) say they are in consensus on the steps necessary to revamp access to electronic scrap recycling opportunities for Pennsylvania citizens. "CDRA inadvertently created an environment in which a once-growing Pennsylvania electronics waste recycling industry nearly collapsed," says Ned Eldridge, ERAP president. "This forced counties and recyclers across Pennsylvania to reduce or abandon their once productive programs." Source: Recycling Today, 6/22/16
  • How Dell Saved $39.5 Million, Cut Carbon Pollution via Telecommuting
    Allowing US employees to telecommute has saved Dell $39.5 million and avoided an estimated 25 million kWh of energy and 13,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions since fiscal year 2014. Source: Environmental Leader, 6/17/16
  • E-Waste Empire
    New York City discards millions of pounds of dead electronics each year. We follow its path from shelf to shredder. Source: The Verge, 6/22/16
  • The Circuit: Tracking America's Electronic Waste
    This international undercover investigation reveals what really happens to America's discarded TVs, phones and computers. Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting, 6/1/16
  • Why Tech Companies Design Products With Their Destruction in Mind
    Apple introduced a piece of technology recently that will likely never be used by any consumer. Instead, it kind of cleans up after them: a robot that breaks down iPhones for recycling. The company spent more than three years building Liam, of which there are currently two. Each carefully separates iPhone components such as the camera module, SIM card trays, screws and batteries. Instead of tossing the whole device into a shredder--the most common form of disposal--Liam separates materials so they can be recycled more efficiently. Other electronics makers take a different recycling approach, designing products that simplify disassembly by replacing glue and screws with parts that snap together, for instance. Some also have reduced the variety of plastics used and avoid mercury and other hazardous materials that can complicate disposal. It's all part of the electronics industry's efforts to undo a problem of its own making. The technological advances that replaced typewriters with personal computers, flip phones with smartphones and clunky TVs with flat-screen displays also spawned the consumer expectation that today's cutting-edge product will become obsolete in a few years. The constant churn of new devices has contributed to an increase in electronic waste, some of which ends up in developing nations where local residents must deal with the health and environmental risks. Source: The Wall Street Journal
  • HOBI International advises team effort to extend life of mobile devices
    HOBI International Inc., an electronics recycling company based in Batavia, Illinois, says life span extension of personal electronics and mobile devices can best be achieved if e-recyclers receive the assistance and cooperation they need from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and legislators. The major legislative challenge is kill-switch legislation, according to HOBI. Kill switches are intended to reduce the theft of mobile devices by rendering them inoperable. However, they also make it nearly impossible to repair and refurbish otherwise working mobile devices that were never stolen or lost, reducing them to e-scrap. Another problem is the restriction imposed by OEMs on who can buy spare parts, such as glass and casings, to repair devices, HOBI says. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/8/16
  • DeKalb County [IL] electronics recycling collections cancelled
    The DeKalb County Health Department announced Thursday that all electronics recycling collections throughout DeKalb County have been suspended after a vendor said it would no longer be able to service the county's five monthly drop-off sites in DeKalb, Sandwich, Sycamore, Waterman and Shabbona. Source: Daily Chronicle via the MidWeek, 6/8/16
  • Peotone [IL] Agrees To Host Will County Residential Electronics Recycling Site
    Will County residents could see the addition of a much-needed electronics recycling center in Peotone, beginning in July. The Peotone Board of Trustees has approved an intergovernmental agreement with the county that would allow the village to "host and maintain a site to collect electronics from Will County residents." The collection site would be located near the police station at 208 E. Main Street. Days and hours of operation are to be determined, but once finalized, will be posted on the village website and the police department website, according to Village President Steve Cross. With all but one county electronics recycling drop-off site closed, Cross noted, having one in Peotone will make it easier for residents to dispose of unwanted and outdated TVs, monitors, computers, cameras, scanners, microwave ovens, telephones, vacuums, copy machines and more. Source: The Vedette Online, 6/9/16
  • Another federal bill to limit e-scrap exports may be on the way
    An industry coalition that pushed for a national ban on sending e-scrap abroad is now looking for legislators to introduce a bill to Congress that would focus on the dangers of counterfeit material. The Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act, currently in draft form, represents a departure from past efforts to outright ban the export of e-scrap by spelling out a variety of exemptions. The bill proposal, which was announced by the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER), would ban the export of non-tested, used whole devices. Meanwhile, it would permit the export of "testing, working electronics" destined for reuse abroad as well as devices that have been destroyed through shredding and dismantling and prepared for recycling operations overseas. The possiblie connection between exported e-scrap and counterfeit goods has become a national story of late. The fear is that parts from exported, non-working devices could be used in the production of counterfeit electronic components in China and elsewhere. There is a chance those electronics could make their way back into equipment that is integral to national safety and security and increase the chance of such equipment malfunctioning. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/9/16
  • Industry Experts Discuss E-Waste Recycling Trends and Obstacles
    The recycling industry is in an ongoing battle with the decrease in commodities prices and improper disposal, but the growing sector of e-waste recycling is especially difficult to manage. For example, if e-waste is improperly disposed of, toxic materials could seep into soil and ground water, as well as pose a risk for those who are handling the e-waste. While commodities will continue to fluctuate, recyclers are faced with the decline in the value of materials, and in increase in the returns of low-value devices. Waste360 recently spoke with Jason Linnell, executive director for the National Center for Electronics Recycling, and Eugene Niuh, business development director for Omnisource Electronics Recycling, about the latest e-waste recycling trends and challenges and the future of the e-waste recycling industry. Source: Waste 360, 6/8/16
  • Industry responds to e-scrap export report
    A recently released export tracking study from the Basel Action Network found that roughly one-third of low-value devices dropped off for recycling in the U.S. ended up outside the country. But industry leaders and researchers say the findings do not point to clear conclusions about the amount of e-scrap material sent overseas overall. Source: E-Scrap News, 5/12/16
  • Pennsylvania bill aims to fix e-scrap funding shortfalls
    Legislation to update Pennsylvania's struggling e-scrap program has been introduced to the state's General Assembly. The bill comes from Rep. Chris Ross, a Republican who sponsored Pennsylvania's original e-scrap legislation that was signed into law in 2010. The latest e-scrap bill from Ross proposes adding a "supplementary program" to the state's Covered Device Recycling Act. According to analysis from Pennsylvania-based government affairs firm Crisci Associates, manufacturers would be charged with paying all of the costs associated with transporting and recycling material collected in the supplementary program. Source: E-Scrap News, 5/12/16
  • Dell Investigating E-Waste Management Following Watchdog Group's Misconduct Claims
    Dell is investigating claims that it exported e-waste in violation of company policy, following a report from a watchdog organization about Dell's e-waste management. The company has had major success collecting and recycling e-waste. Dell has collected more than 1.4 billion pounds of e-waste since 2007, in part through its Reconnect program and its Asset Resale and Recycling Services program for business customers. This initiative allows companies to transport, resell and/or recycle any brand of owned or leased equipment, in an environmentally safe way, while protecting customer's data. The e-waste exporting claims stem from a Basel Action Network (BAN) report on a two-year study that involved placing electronic GPS tracking devices into old hazardous electronic equipment such as printers and computer monitors, and then watching where they traveled across the globe. Source: Environmental Leader, 5/11/16
  • Tracking the international journey of the United States' deadly e-waste
    Jim Puckett of BAN explains how his organization caught recyclers and manufacturers red-handed in fraudulent e-waste exports. Source: Waste Dive, 5/12/16
  • SERI says IL bill illegally impacts R2
    The Illinois legislature is currently considering a proposal that attempts to change the R2 standard and certification program (and also e-Stewards). House Bill 6321 -- the bill currently under consideration -- includes language to prohibit Certification Bodies from taking any action if a certified recycler uses retrievable storage for CRT glass. R2 does not allow retrievable storage of CRT glass, instead requiring that it be recycled. The capacity exists for all CRT glass to be recycled. Source: SERI, via R2 Update Newsletter, 4/28/16
  • Are Your Electronics Socially Responsible?
    About five years ago, the sustainability movement emerged, putting a sometimes harsh spotlight on the ethical aspects of producing and using electronics. Today, more and more purchasers understand that sustainable products aren't just supposed to be good for the environment. They're asking bigger questions, like "Was it manufactured by forced or child labor?" or "How were conditions in the factories?" Source: Tripe Pundit, 5/2/16
  • Old TVs Create Toxic Problem for Recycling Programs Across America
    Low commodities prices around the world are making life difficult for electronics recyclers, especially those struggling to get rid of toxic materials from obsolete television sets. The result: Old TVs being dumped in the trash or on the side of the road and e-recycling companies improperly disposing of them, including a Kentucky company caught last year burying old TVs and other electronics devices in a 10-foot-deep hole in a field. And that is bad news for the environment. Source: NBC News, 4/24/16
  • Phone, Everlasting: What If Your Smartphone Never Got Old?
    Alina Selyukh examines strategies to keep phones in service for longer, from fixing to smarter design, for NPR's "All Tech Considered.' Source: NPR, 4/25/16
  • Choosing to Skip the Upgrade and Care for the Gadget You've Got
    Many tech companies are trying to train people to constantly upgrade their gadgets -- part ways with a device, the argument goes, as soon as something newer and faster comes along. Vincent Lai of the Fixers Collective, and Kyle Wiens of iFixit, propose a different strategy. Source: The New York Times, 4/20/16
  • Researchers cook up new battery anodes with wild mushrooms
    Carbon fibers derived from a sustainable source, a type of wild mushroom, and modified with nanoparticles have been shown to outperform conventional graphite electrodes for lithium-ion batteries.

    Researchers at Purdue University have created electrodes from a species of wild fungus called Tyromyces fissilis. Source: Purdue University, 4/6/16

  • What Apple's reuse robot says about sustainability and tech
    Somewhere in between the technicolor iWatches, cheaper iPhones and revamped iPads, a relatively run-of-the-mill Apple i-device showcase Monday briefly veered into the company's vision for high-tech sustainability. The showstopper was "Liam," a robot capable of deconstructing used iPhones and removing component parts for reuse or recycling. Precious metals such as the silver present in the phone's motherboard, for example, could be stripped and re-purposed for solar panels, said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives. But the window into Apple's massive product supply chain -- the company had sold 700 million iPhones alone as of last year -- also raises familiar questions about the role that consumer electronics companies play in encouraging a throw-away culture that perpetuates global issues such as e-waste. Getting used electronics back to manufacturers (and their robots) in the first place is no easy task. Liam also won't do anything for consumers who want to fix their iPhones themselves instead of buying a new one, nor the processors handling countless other gadgets on the market today. Source: GreenBiz, 3/21/16
  • IL: Electronics recycling may start costing Kane County residents
    If Kane County residents want convenient means to recycle their electronics, someone is going to pay more. And county officials are trying to position themselves to not be the bearers of that additional cost. It was only about a year ago that county residents had six options for electronics recycling. There were permanent drop-off locations in communities such as West Dundee and St. Charles. And the county hosted a countywide recycling event on the second Saturday of each month from April through November. After April 8, only the one-day, countywide events will remain. That's far less convenient, but it is still far more than most areas of the state offer, according to Jennifer Jarland, Kane County's recycling program coordinator. "We are one of only four Illinois counties with a program of any kind still remaining," she said. "No one will have permanent drop-off left by the end of April, including us." Source: The Daily Herald, 3/30/16
  • IL: Electronics recycling centers may close May 1-- or not
    Lake County residents with clunky TVs and outmoded computers may have only a few weeks left to drop them off at one of SWALCO's electronics recycling sites, including a location in Highland Park. SWALCO, or Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, announced March 4 that it planned to discontinue electronics collection at its five drop-off sites May 1 rather than continue subsidizing a program once fully financed by electronics manufacturers. Since the agency announced its decision, municipal officials in 10 towns have offered to contribute money to keep the program alive through the end of 2016, according to Walter Willis, SWALCO's executive director. The agency's board of directors may vote April 14 to reverse its decision, he said. Most electronics -- including televisions, monitors, computers and video games -- have been banned from Illinois landfills since 2012 under a state law enacted several years earlier. The law required manufacturers to purchase recycled electronics under a formula based on the weight of the products sold in Illinois. Because new electronics tend to be lighter than those consumers are discarding, manufacturers' buy-back requirements haven't been sufficient to cover the amount of electronics collected, according to SWALCO. Source: Chicago Tribune, 3/28/2016
  • What Apple's reuse robot says about sustainability and tech
    A robot that can take apart an iPhone is good for the visibility of green design, but it won't fix environmental ills such as e-waste. Source: GreenBiz, 3/21/16
  • Apple is first U.S. tech company to issue green bonds
    Apple frequently uses debt rather than its flush cash coffers to finance corporate initiatives, such as stock repurchase programs -- it makes sense to do so for tax reasons. But, the company's latest appeal to the public debt markets includes another "first" for Apple and the tech industry at large: Apple is issuing $1.5 billion in green bonds to pay for a wide range of environmental initiatives. The issue is the largest ever to be undertaken by a U.S. company. Broadly speaking, green bonds are specifically designated for projects that mitigate the effects of climate change. That rather vague description could cover anything from green building projects to renewable energy investments. Source: GreenBiz, 2/22/16
  • Learning the Alphabet: How schools around the country are turning dead Microsoft PCs into speedy Chromebooks
    Schools on a tight budget are giving new life to old devices with Neverware's Cloud Ready version of Chromium, the open-source version of Google's Chrome operating system. Source: The Verge, 2/17/16
  • EPA Study Finds Electronics Recycling Standards are Well Implemented and Makes Recommendations for Further Improvement
    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a study assessing the implementation of the two third-party certification programs for electronic waste recyclers in the United States. EPA's study found that the certification standards are being implemented by auditors with thorough knowledge of the standards. The study identified a number of strengths in implementation of the standards, such as clear and effective roles and responsibilities among the key implementers, and opportunities for constructive feedback integrated throughout the system. The study also offers recommendations for improving the overall effectiveness of implementation, including providing additional training and guidance materials in key topic areas, providing regular updates to the standards and increasing audit times to allow for more thorough audits. Source: US EPA, 2/4/16
  • How we got Fairtrade certified gold in the Fairphone 2 supply chain
    Smartphones contain dozens of minerals sourced from every corner of the globe, including gold, which is commonly used in printed circuit boards (PCBs) as well as other wiring and components due to its excellent conductivity. And of course, it's not only found in phones. Gold is an essential material in many of today's consumer electronics, and the electronics industry is the third largest consumer of gold worldwide, after the jewelry industry and financial sector. But the path that gold travels from the mine to your phone or other devices is often problematic, to put it mildly. To start, gold is one of the four conflict minerals identified by the Dodd-Frank Act. This means that gold has been known to finance rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Because tiny amounts of gold are extremely valuable, this mineral is also very prone to smuggling. Even outside of conflict and high-risk regions, gold mining poses a wide variety of social and environmental challenges, such as land disputes, sub-standard wages, unsafe working conditions, child labor and mercury pollution. However for many mining communities worldwide, it provides their main source of income and livelihood. For all of these reasons and more, Fairphone is extremely pleased to announce that it has reached a major milestone: Together with its partners, it has achieved the first-ever Fairtrade gold supply chain for the consumer electronics industry. Source: Fairphone Blog, 1/27/16
  • The Body Shop to turn greenhouse gases into plastic packaging
    The Body Shop packaging could soon be made from greenhouse gases that would otherwise pollute the atmosphere, thanks to a new research partnership between the retailer and cleantech firm Newlight Technologies. California-based Newlight is the proprietor of AirCarbon -- a thermoplastic that behaves the same as normal plastics but uses methane and carbon dioxide as its foundation rather than oil. The 'development partnership' between the two firms will see The Body Shop become the first company to try and industrialise AirCarbon in the beauty industry. Aircarbon is currently used by Dell in its laptop packaging. Carbon emissions are captured from farms, landfills and energy facilities and then fed into a reactor, where the fumes are catalysed by enzymes and turned into a substance called AirCarbon. This is then cooled and sliced into plastic pellets which can be moulded into almost anything. Source: Edie.net, 2/2/16