Recent News

  • 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:, 2/2/16
  • Why Best Buy Changed its E-Waste Recycling Program
    Best Buy this week changed its in-store e-waste recycling program, charging customers $25 for each TV and computer monitor they recycle at its stores, because it is losing money on the program.In Illinois and Pennsylvania, Best Buy says it no longer recycles TVs and computer monitors because of state laws preventing the retailer from collecting fees to help run the recycling program. Best Buy says consumers can continue to recycle all other products -- such as batteries, ink cartridges, computers and printers -- for free at all of its stores. Source: Environmental Leader, 2/3/16
  • OH: Proposed Medina Waste Mall could rejuvenate recycling efforts in the county
    Officials from Medina County's three cities are intrigued by a proposal that would turn the former Central Processing Facility into a one-stop shop for mixed-waste recycling and upcycling. The Optiva Group presented its plan to create the Medina Waste Mall at a joint meeting of the Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth city councils at Medina City Hall last night. Edmund Kwiecien, president and CEO of Optiva, explained that the waste mall would take residential garbage and transform it into recyclable materials, energy and new products -- all at the former CPF site. Kwiecien said the waste mall would be the first of its kind in the United States. "The recycling market is volatile. And the handling of waste is expensive," he said. That's why Optiva wants to keep its operations all under one roof, so that it can move the waste once, process it, make useful products out of it, then sell those products. Source:, 2/2/16
  • IL: Burdened by electronics, St. Charles eyes ending recycling program
    ST. CHARLES -- The last of the Tri-Cities is on the verge of ending its electronics recycling site for Kane County due to an inundation of materials, which staff said is not only creating a burden on employees but is also posing safety concerns. Source: Kane County Chronicle, 1/27/16
  • Epson Develops the World's First Office Papermaking System that Turns Waste Paper into New Paper
    Seiko Epson Corporation has developed what it believes to be the world's first compact office papermaking system capable of producing new paper from securely shredded waste paper without the use of water. Epson plans to put the new "PaperLab" into commercial production in Japan in 2016, with sales in other regions to be decided at a later date. Businesses and government offices that install a PaperLab in a backyard area will be able to produce paper of various sizes, thicknesses, and types, from office paper and business card paper to paper that is colored and scented. Source: Seiko Epson Corporation, 12/1/15
  • Testing their metal: The new tech sector focus on conflict minerals
    Intel made tremendous strides over the past seven years in eliminating so-called conflict -- aka "blood" -- minerals from much of its product line. But even though it has pretty much met its own commitment, don't expect the microprocessor giant to back off its awareness campaign. Now, Intel is encouraging other tech organizations to become far more aggressive about shunning tin, tantalum, gold and tungsten mined from unverified sources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Source: GreenBiz, 1/20/16
  • How HP and Dell are reducing the toxics in their electronics
    Around the world, electronics companies are working to reduce their use of chemicals that are known to be hazardous to human health, the environment or both. Source: GreenBiz, 1/20/16
  • Children as young as seven mining cobalt used in smartphones, says Amnesty
    Children as young as seven are working in perilous conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mine cobalt that ends up in smartphones, cars and computers sold to millions across the world, by household brands including Apple, Microsoft and Vodafone, according to a new investigation by Amnesty International. The human rights group claims to have traced cobalt used in lithium batteries sold to 16 multinational brands to mines where young children and adults are being paid a dollar a day, working in life-threatening conditions and subjected to violence, extortion and intimidation. More than half the world's supply of cobalt comes from the DRC, with 20% of cobalt exported coming from artisanal mines in the southern part of the country. In 2012, Unicef estimated that there were 40,000 children working in all the mines across the south, many involved in mining cobalt. Source: The Guardian, 1/19/16
  • The Burning Truth Behind an E-Waste Dump in Africa
    During the last decade, some of the world's most respected media organizations have transformed Agbogbloshie into a symbol of what's believed to be a growing crisis: the export--or dumping--of electronic waste from rich, developed countries into Africa. It's a concise narrative that resonates strongly in a technology-obsessed world. There's just one problem: The story is not that simple. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, 85 percent of the e-waste dumped in Ghana and other parts of West Africa is produced in Ghana and West Africa. In other words, ending the export of used electronics from the wealthy developed world won't end the burning in Agbogbloshie. The solution must come from West Africa itself and the people who depend upon e-waste to make a living. Source: Smithsonian Magazine, 1/13/16
  • A Brilliant MIT Invention Makes Incandescent Bulbs As Efficient As LEDs
    An energy-saving light bulb containing LEDs uses up to 80% less energy and lasts up to 25 times as long as a traditional incandescent bulb. There's just one problem: many people think that the quality of light coming from an LED bulb feels less natural. A new innovation from MIT might help consumers get the best of both worlds, bringing the incandescent bulb closer in line with the energy efficiency of LED lights while maintaining its homey glow. Source: Fast Company, 1/13/16
  • The Conflict-Free Effect: Better for Society, Better for Business
    At the Consumer Electronics Show, the CEO of Intel announced that the company is moving beyond microprocessors to validate its broader product base as conflict-free in 2016. Carolyn Duran, supply chain director and conflict minerals program manager for Intel, explains. Source: Triple Pundit, 1/7/16
  • Millions of people being contaminated with toxic mercury used in mines
    The largely unregulated use of mercury has created a major worldwide environmental hazard. Source: CBC, 12/30/15
  • China's Notorious E-Waste Village Disappears Almost Overnight
    Just days after the Dec. 1 order for all 3,000 remaining unregulated electronic-waste workshops to move to a newly built industrial park or face power cuts, the smell of burning plastic from the few waste fires smoldering on the roadside still hangs heavy in the air around Guiyu. Yet the visual reminders of the notorious village are largely absent. Source: Bloomberg BNA, 12/16/15
  • Colorado State Chemists Develop Recyclable, Biodegradable, Petroleum-Free Plastic
    Chemists at Colorado State University (CSU) have developed a new biodegradable polymer. The plastic is made from the bio-renewable monomer Gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) and it converts back to GBL when heated -- ready for reuse. The new material, called poly(GBL), could represent a fully recyclable and biodegradable alternative to petroleum-based materials. Source: Sustainable Brands, 12/15/15
  • California reaches $26-million settlement with Comcast over electronic waste
    Cable television giant Comcast Corp. has agreed to pay the state of California $25.95 million to resolve allegations that the company unlawfully disposed of electronics, including remote controls, modems, splitters and routers. California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and Alameda County Dist. Atty. Nancy E. O'Malley on Tuesday announced the settlement with Comcast. The company, based in Philadelphia, had been "careless" in disposing materials that are considered hazardous waste, Harris said in a statement. The state's investigation showed that, since 2005, Comcast warehouse and dispatch workers in Northern California had unlawfully disposed of electronic equipment by sending it to local landfills. The investigation began four years ago. The probe also found that Comcast had not taken proper steps to shield private information about customers when it destroyed some subscriber records. Source: Los Angeles Times, 12/17/15
  • The Killer App for 3D Printing? The Circular Economy
    3D printing is currently a niche technology -- but it has the potential to help us completely alter how we use and reuse materials to make custom goods. As a technology, it offers three factors that define sustainable systems: (1) materials parsimony, (2) power autonomy, and (3) value cycling. Guest editor Gregory Unruh explains how 3D printing represents a sustainability game-changer. Source: MIT Sloan Management Review, 12/8/15
  • How Do We Define 'Electronics' for Recycling?
    When we in the United States think about electronics recycling programs, we usually consider "electronics" to include common household devices like TVs, computers, monitors and printers. But other jurisdictions have a broader understanding of what "electronics" or used electronic equipment should be, and the other products that encompasses may be more common for programs in the future. Source: Waste 360, 11/25/15
  • Apple, Adidas have 'greenest' supply chains in China
    Apple, Adidas and H&M have the "greenest" supply chains among the 167 brands evaluated by the Corporate Information Transparency Index (CITI) (PDF), a system for assessing companies' sustainable sourcing practices. Jointly developed by Chinese nonprofit Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), CITI analyzes companies' supply chain environmental management in China based on government-issued and public data on suppliers contracted by evaluated brands over the past year. Communication records from 1,607 suppliers that expressed relationships to 86 brands also were evaluated. Source: GreenBiz, 11/18/15
  • Adrian Grenier to Uber around NYC, collect e-waste for Dell initiative
    Entourage star and Dell Social Good Advocate Adrian Grenier has teamed up with Uber and Goodwill for Dell's NYC Tech Takeback initiative. For the initiative, Uber will offer to pick-up old e-waste from NYC residents and deliver the waste to Goodwill, which will then recycle it through Dell. Source: WasteDive, 11/13/15
  • NYC Students Establish "Restart Center" to Help Peers with Computer Problems
    Later this month, a new resource will be available to Fieldston students looking to replace failing computer parts, troubleshoot software, or fix glitches. Student volunteers, who will receive community service credit for their work, will be manning "Restart Centers" on campus, helping students diagnose their computers' problems and guide them toward buying new parts and learning how to make repairs. Source: Ethical Culture Fieldston School, November 2015
  • Repair hub iFixit unveils standard for technicians
    Across the country, many companies and individuals are repairing and reselling mobile phones. Electronics repair advocate iFixit decided it was time to bring a certification into the space. The California-based repair advocate group last week announced a MasterTech Certification for technicians working on mobile devices. "This is exciting. This is the first new standard for electronics repair technicians in a long, long time," iFixit co-founder and CEO Kyle Wiens told E-Scrap News. "And it's certainly the first cellphone repair technician standard in the world." To achieve certification, technicians must pass a two-part online test that can be accessed after paying a $150 fee. The first part, a multiple-choice section, tests knowledge of topics such as device repair, data destruction, and legal and ethical issues. The second part, which is recorded and reviewed via webcam video, requires the technicians to demonstrate their skills disassembling and re-assembling phones from memory. Source: Resource Recycling, 11/12/15
  • R2 Ready for Reuse Label Pilot Launched
    SERI has announced the launch of the pilot phase of the R2 Ready for Reuse label project, which will provide purchasers of used computers assurance that the used devices have been responsibly refurbished. Supported by Microsoft, Chicago-based PC Rebuilders and Recyclers, and SERI, the program provides participating R2 Certified computer refurbishing and recycling companies with R2 Ready for Reuse labels that each contain a unique serial number. One of the labels is attached to each R2 Ready for Reuse computer, allowing purchasers to look up the serial number and view the testing record for that unit to ensure it is in good working condition. Source: Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), 11/3/15
  • Why America Is Failing So Badly At Recycling Old Electronics
    An old television. A first-generation iPhone. The free printer that came with a new computer. These once novel items are among the millions of tons of technology pitched into the trash or taken to recycling centers each year. Though states have been trying to get manufacturers to help pay for electronics recycling since the early 2000s, half do not have statewide recycling programs and those that do are evaluating how to make their programs work as the size, volume and value of recycled electronics change. Source: Huffington Post Tech, 11/9/15
  • Tech Helping Medical Devices Go Green
    Even if we're loathe to admit that climate change is a thing, it makes sense for those who use the most energy to do what they can to keep their carbon footprint in check, which puts the medical industry right up near the top of the list. This article describes some ways that technology is helping the health care industry become greener. Source: Marketing:Green, 10/21/15
  • Tech meets transparency: The rise of connected supply chains
    Getting to the root cause of looming labor turmoil is just one area of activity in the growing supply chain technology industry, which is making a mark on production in sectors ranging from agriculture to electronics to apparel. Source: GreenBiz, 10/28/15
  • Proper Materials Storage Fundamental to E-Recycling
    Proper storage of materials is a fundamental element of the electronics recycling R2 Standard that is addressed in Provision 9, according to SERI, which manages the R2 recycling standard. While the material storage requirements of R2:2013 are rooted in basic environmental, health and safety regulations in place in the US, the general principles and intent behind the regulations apply to all responsible recycling facilities, regardless of where they operate. Source: Environmental Leader, 10/26/15
  • Dell cuts e-waste with recycled carbon fiber
    In 2013, as part of its 2020 Legacy of Good Plan, Dell established two objectives tied to cutting down on e-waste: using 50 million pounds of recycled materials and recovering 2 billion pounds of e-waste by 2020. The company has made notable progress toward these goals -- since 2013, it has incorporated into products more than 21 million pounds of recycled plastics from sources including water bottles and CD cases, and has recovered 1.2 billion pounds of e-waste. But the company wanted to secure its own waste stream to free it from the volatile global plastics market, which can fluctuate depending on the price of oil and other mounting competition for recycled plastics. That's why in 2014, Dell launched its closed-loop recycled plastics supply chain, which has since recycled more than 4 million pounds of plastics into new products. Certified by UL Environment as the first closed-loop supply chain, the program entails collecting, recycling and using e-waste to make new Dell products. Building on its closed-loop recycling operations, Dell earlier this month announced a partnership with supplier SABIC to recycle excess carbon fiber and scrap raw materials into new Dell products beginning in late 2015. Source: GreenBiz, 10/23/15
  • The benefit of more electronics recycling? Try $10 billion
    Tech manufacturers are pretty efficient when it comes to reusing natural capital, but they could do far more. Source: GreenBiz, 10/20/15