Recent News

  • 'Ethical' Fairphone 2 smartphone launched to combat electronic waste
    Fairphone 2 -- the sequel to the world's first "ethical smartphone" -- has launched in the UK, at a cost of £395. The original Fairphone, which launched in 2013, promised to avoid using components made with minerals from conflict mines, improve working conditions for factory staff in China and reduce e-waste. The phone proved a relative success, with 60,000 buyers, allowing the Amsterdam-based social enterprise behind the device to develop a new model without relying on external investment. The Fairphone 2, which has been co-designed with London design agency Seymourpowell, features a 5-inch, full HD Gorilla Glass LCD display and runs Android 5.1 (Lollipop), with 32GB of internal storage. It has a modular architecture that Fairphone claims is easy to open and repair, and the phone's back cover, which comes in a range of colours, wraps around the front edge of the screen, functioning as a shatter-proof case. Source: The Telegraph, 9/28/15
  • Volkswagen Scandal Ripples Through Entire Auto Industry
    The impact of the Volkswagen emissions scandal is enormous, affecting and the health of local communities as well as the livelihood and reputation of auto dealers and mechanics, on top of hundreds of thousands of car owners who bought into the company's "clean diesel" marketing. That's just for starters. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also placed all auto manufacturers under heightened scrutiny, and the scandal casts a pall over Volkswagen's other sustainability projects. On September 25, EPA also sent a letter notifying auto manufacturers of the change in emissions testing procedures. It was short and to the point. Here is the relevant passage: "&EPA may test or require testing on any vehicle at a designated location, using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device." Source: Triple Pundit, 10/2/15
  • EU probes TV makers over energy efficiency test scores
    The European Commission says it is "following up" two reports that raise concerns that software used in TVs may be skewing their energy rating scores. Source: BBC, 10/1/15
  • California approves hazardous waste disposal of CRT glass
    Responding to what it calls a dearth of reliable downstream processors of CRT funnel glass, the state of California will allow the lead-laden material to head to hazardous waste disposal facilities. Formally announced in an emergency regulatory action issued on Aug. 21, the decision on the part of California regulators calls on companies participating in the state's electronics recycling program to first seek out recycling outlets for the glass "to the extent economically feasible." Source: Resource Recycling, 9/17/15
  • Administration Announces New "Smart Cities" Initiative to Help Communities Tackle Local Challenges and Improve City Services
    The Obama Administration has announced a new "Smart Cities" Initiative that will invest over $160 million in federal research and leverage more than 25 new technology collaborations to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services. The new initiative is part of this Administration's overall commitment to target federal resources to meet local needs and support community-led solutions. Over the past six years, the Administration has pursued a place-based approach to working with communities as they tackle a wide range of challenges, from investing in infrastructure and filling open technology jobs to bolstering community policing. Advances in science and technology have the potential to accelerate these efforts. An emerging community of civic leaders, data scientists, technologists, and companies are joining forces to build "Smart Cities" -- communities that are building an infrastructure to continuously improve the collection, aggregation, and use of data to improve the life of their residents -- by harnessing the growing data revolution, low-cost sensors, and research collaborations, and doing so securely to protect safety and privacy. Source: The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 9/14/15
  • Texas teenager creates $20 water purifier to tackle toxic e-waste pollution
    Consumer electronics, including computers and mobiles, are leaving a legacy of toxic waste in countries including China and India. Recycling factories across Asia are recovering e-waste exported from around the world, but discharging heavy metals and chemicals into local water supplies in the process. How to safeguard drinking water for local residents is an ongoing battle, with existing solutions such as chlorination, distillation, boiling and high-tech filtration prohibitively expensive and often reliant on fossil fuels. Now a new filtering device, invented by a US teenager, could provide a cheap and easy way to purify water. The renewable heavy metal filter, designed by 18-year-old Perry Alagappan, removes 99% of heavy metals from water that passes through it. The filter, built from graphene nanotubes, can be rinsed with a vinegar concentrate and reused. The highly concentrated waste can then be evaporated, leaving a deposit of pure metal that can be used in many different applications. Source: The Guardian, 8/27/15
  • What's in all that e-cig vapor?
    While many users perceive e-cigs as safer than traditional cigarettes, some of the flavorings that make them so enticing may have their own toxic consequences. Source: Washington Post, 8/31/15
  • Apple, Microsoft, Motorola wring new revenue out of e-waste
    What do Apple, Microsoft and Motorola have in common? All of these high-profile technology companies are harvesting new revenue out of discarded and end-of-life gadgets, rather than looking at them just as liabilities that require responsible recycling. What's more, all three are among the roughly 100 organizations using Hong Kong's Li Tong Group (aka LTG) to get the job done. LTG, a specialist in reverse logistics, operates a network of 21 facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. You can think of it as a contract "un-manufacturer" -- an organization authorized to take apart smartphones, computer networking equipment and other electronics devices. LTG handles items that are traded in, returned or unsold. Source: GreenBiz, 8/27/15
  • The circular economy's missing ingredient: Local
    The latest P2 Impact column has been published over at GreenBiz. John Mulrow, Interim Director at Plant Chicago, writes about an often-overlooked aspect of the material reuse craze. Source:
  • U. of I. to lead center for power optimization in mobile electronics
    Heat is the enemy for people designing cars, construction machinery, aircraft and mobile electronics. When electrical systems do more work, they get hotter. When they get too hot, they operate inefficiently, fail or even melt. A new, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center led by the U. of I. is out to pack more power into less space for electrical systems. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation. Source: University of Illinois News Bureau, Inside Illinois, 8/20/15
  • Illini Gadget Garage will provide a space to repair electronics on campus
    The goal of the Gadget Garage project -- part of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center -- is to extend the useful life of electronic products and reduce electronic waste. Source: University of Illinois, 8/24/15
  • E-waste: The Nuts and Bolts of Why It Still Plagues our Landfills
    Carol Baroudi of Arrow Electronics, Jason Linnell of the National Center for Electronics Recycling, and Wayne Rifer and Jonas Allen of the Green Electronics Council help illuminate the reasons why electronic waste continues to be a vexing issue. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/19/15
  • Why We Shouldn't be Collecting Electronics at the Curb
    Jason Linnell of the National Center for Electronics Recycling discusses the reasons why curbside collection of electronics is not a good solution for electronics recycling, despite the potential convenience for consumers. Source: Waste 360
  • Inside Microsoft's wind energy strategy
    Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable power from two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms -- capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes -- could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment. Source: GreenBiz, 8/18/15
  • Green Electronics in an Age of Endless Innovation
    Global smartphone sales reached 1 billion in 2013 and 1.2 billion in 2014. By comparison, television sales may fall to below 200 million this year. There are profound trends in the works in the IT industry as our gadgets become increasingly mobile and sophisticated, with users demanding huge energy efficiency gains. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/10/15
  • Tracing conflict minerals proves elusive -- and expensive
    The clock for corporates looking to get a handle on supply chain conflict minerals is starting to tick much louder. With just one year to go before stricter reporting is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, many companies are still struggling to trace their sources for metals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin, according to an analysis of reports submitted for the most recent reporting period. Source:, 8/10/15
  • Doctor warns about lead poisoning risk from recycling older electronic equipment
    The disposal and recycling of electronic devices has increased exposure to lead and other toxicants and created "an emerging health concern," according to a pediatrician who directs the Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Nick Newman reports on two children, ages 1 and 2, whose father worked at an e-scrap recycling company crushing cathode ray tubes (CRTs). CRTs, made from leaded glass, were commonly used in televisions and computer monitors but largely have been replaced by newer technologies. The children had blood lead levels of 18 micrograms per deciliter and 14 micrograms per deciliter. Although no safe blood lead level in children has been identified, a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is now used to identify children for whom parents, doctors and public health officials should take action to reduce exposure to lead. The father left his job soon after the elevated blood lead levels were detected, the levels subsequently decreased to 8.7 and 7.9 parts per deciliter over the next three months. Source: Medical Press, 7/28/15
  • ERI, iFixit work together to recover, sell parts
    With commodity prices continuing to slump, Electronic Recyclers International has teamed up with iFixit to move further into reselling working parts and pieces of devices instead of shredding them. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/30/15
  • This smartphone game exposes the human cost of recycling e-waste
    Burn the Boards, which has just come out on iOS to complement an earlier Android release, is a game about what happens after you ditch your phone. The technical term for this sort of thing is e-waste. Various components in abandoned electronic goods can be salvaged, reused, or recycled. Harvesting these parts, however, often results in exposure to a variety of foul substances, which is to say nothing of large-scale pollution that is caused by the clumsy and negligent recycling of e-waste. As such, e-waste is less of a technical problem than it is a human one: The handling of these items exposes informal workers to considerable risks. Burn the Boards focuses on these human costs. Source: Kill Screen, 7/28/15
  • EPEAT: Moving the Electronics Market Toward Green Standards
    Environmental standards often aren't the first thing we think about when hunting for a new computer. We may check to see if it's well made, whether it uses a lot of energy to run and whether the manufacturer has a good rep. But oftentimes (probably too often), the bells and whistles win out over whether the apparatus was made with environmental concerns in mind. It turns out that many companies are considering environmental design qualities anyway -- the reduction in environmental harmful emissions, the decrease in exposure to toxic substances like mercury and the use of substances that don't end up in landfills -- thanks to a set of privately designed standards. They are called EPEAT, or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and they serve as the Green Electronics Council's gold standard for environmentally preferable electronics. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/28/15
  • At the Core of Sustainable Electronics
    There's rightfully much ado about the climate -- from extreme weather events, severe droughts and water crises to fossil fuels and the race to renewables. However, there's far too little talk about electronics and their role in environmental ecosystems. Source: Environmental Leader, 7/27/15
  • The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
    With water in ever-shorter supply in drought-ravaged California, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15
  • HP to Power Texas Data Centers With Wind Energy
    For years, clean energy developers could look to only a small handful of corporations as project partners or customers for their power. Mostly, there was Google, and a few other high-tech companies that worked directly with wind and solar developers to help green their energy use. Now, that appears to be changing. On Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard announced a 12-year contract to buy 112 megawatts from a wind farm that SunEdison is expanding in Texas. That is enough, HP said, to operate its data centers there, the equivalent of powering 42,600 homes each year. The deal follows a flurry of other recent agreements. Source: The New York Times, 7/21/15
  • Processors say Illinois law ignores CRT recycling options
    An industry group has criticized a recently signed bill modifying the e-scrap law in Illinois, saying the state failed to account for existing recycling outlets for CRT glass. In a letter sent to the Illinois EPA on July 20, a group consisting of 13 electronics recycling companies, including some of the industry's most prominent, argues House Bill 1455 assumes "CRT glass is not recyclable." Information from regional glass processors shows "this is not the case," the group said. The following companies signed onto the letter: AVA Recycling, Cascade Asset Management, CJD E-Cycling, Com2 Recycling Solutions, Comprenew, ECS Refining, Electronic Recyclers International, E-Scrap Technologies, Genesis Electronics Recycling, Global Environmental Services, Novotec, Sims Recycling Solutions and Supply-Chain Services. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/23/15
  • The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
    With California thought to have only one year of water left, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15
  • Why We're All a Part of the Green Electronics Conversation
    From material sourcing and production to recovery and recycling, stakeholders in the electronics space embraced the concept of a circular economy years before it was fashionable. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/14/15
  • A Biodegradable Computer Chip That Performs Surprisingly Well
    Biodegradable, wood-based computer chips can perform just as well as chips commonly used for wireless communication, according to new research. The inventors argue that the new chips could help address the global problem of rapidly accumulating electronic waste, some of which contains potentially toxic materials. The results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics. Source: MIT Technology Review, 7/14/15
  • Startup Uses Climate-Changing Methane to Make Eco-Friendly Plastic
    A small Costa Mesa, Calif., company has lined up contracts with major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs from potent methane that would've instead seeped into the atmosphere. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15
  • Rauner signs electronics recycling bill into law
    A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allowing Will County officials to breathe a sigh relief -- for now. Source: Joliet Herald-News, 7/14/15
  • NC bill could eliminate e-waste manufacturer fees
    A North Carolina bill that passed the state senate could remove electronics manufacturers' responsibility to fund the recycling of electronics. If it becomes law, HB 765 would repeal manufacturers' recycling fee requirements for discarded computer equipment and televisions, which totaled nearly $1 million in the last fiscal year. Even without manufacturer's requirements to help recycle e-waste, such waste still will be prohibited from landfills. Source: Waste Dive, 7/10/15