The Electronics TakeBack Coalition promotes green design and responsible recycling in the electronics industry in the U.S. as part of the global effort for advancing sustainable practices.We have a three-point platform for reform in the electronics industry: Take it back, Make it green, Recycle responsibly.
Take It Back
Producer Responsibility. Manufacturers of electronic equipment should take financial and/or physical responsibility for their products and resulting wastes, throughout the entire product lifecycle. This includes taking back products for free when consumers are done with them, for reuse or recycling, rather than relying on consumers, taxpayers and local governments to pay for disposal or recycling. Wherever possible, producers should take responsibility for their own brand. This concept of “Individual Producer Responsibility” supports green design because when manufacturers are responsible for recycling their old products they will have a financial incentive to redesign them to make them less toxic, and easier (and cheaper) to recycle. This market-based mechanism gives companies with more recyclable products a competitive advantage.
Voluntary takeback programs. All electronics manufacturers should create and vigorously promote voluntary national programs to take back and responsibly recycle their products for free to consumers in the U.S.
Recycling Legislation. We support legislation (state or federal) that mandates robust producer responsibility programs with aggressive reuse and recycling goals and timetables, and high standards for environmentally sound, recycling. Legislation creates a level playing field so companies with effective “takeback” and recycling programs are not put at a competitive disadvantage.
To improve the ecological footprint of their electronic products, the electronics manufacturers should adhere to Green Engineering Principles* in their product designs, including the following:
Fully assess and minimize the potential environmental, human health and social impact of the product’s production, use and end of life treatment, including commonly used recycling technologies (like shredding).
Don’t use customers as the testing ground for whether materials in the product are safe or dangerous. Ensure that all material used and or released are as benign and inherently safe as possible BEFORE putting products on the market, by applying a precautionary approach to chemical management and by finding safer substitutes for chemicals that persist and accumulate in the environment.
Design for carbon neutrality when possible to reduce the energy impact of the product throughout its life cycle.
Maximize design for repairability, reuse and durable use, to increase the longevity of the product and thereby reduce consumption of limited material resources.
Plan for recyclability and ease of disassembly of the product, including using materials that can be recycled easily into new products, and minimizing waste.
Minimize use of raw virgin materials , and maximize use of recycled materials , to reduce consumption of limited natural resources.
Invest in solutions that go beyond our current dominant technologies to improve, innovate and invent technologies that achieve sustainability.
Actively engage communities and stakeholders in the development of new design solutions that improve the life cycle impact of electronic products.
Reuse First. Reuse and refurbishment is the highest priority for used electronics, but only if it is done responsibly (including responsible management of wastes and non-working units).
Zero Waste. Hazardous discarded electronic equipment should be banned from going to solid waste landfills or incinerators (including waste-to-energy incinerators). Residues from recycling toxic materials should go to hazardous waste landfills, where toxins are sequestered and monitored, long term.
No Dumping on Developing Countries. Toxic e-waste should not be exported to developing countries. Instead, we should be increasing our capacity to manage our own e-waste domestically. The federal government should act to prevent exports of toxic e-waste to all developing countries. Meanwhile electronics producers, recyclers, and users should halt all such export of toxic e-waste under their control. Exporters for re-use must ensure that all equipment is fully tested prior to export and if not fully functional, handling will not allow hazardous parts to be disposed or recycled in the importing country.
No prison labor. Hazardous electronic waste should not be sent to prisons for recycling
Protect workers and communities. The electronics recycling industry should apply stringent occupational health and safety standards to recycling and refurbishment facilities (beyond regulations) to protect workers and nearby communities.