Federal Administrative Policy on E-Waste

History – the Federal Inter-agency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship

On November 15, 2010, President Obama issued a presidential proclamation on electronics recycling, announcing that he was creating an Interagency Task Force of agencies within the federal government “to prepare a national strategy for responsible electronics stewardship, including improvements to Federal procedures for managing electronic products.”    He also said he wanted “to ensure the Federal Government leads as a responsible consumer.”

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) of the White House issued a letter on November 8, 2010 to the administrators of the EPA and the GSA (the purchasing arm of the Federal Government) asking them to co-chair the Task Force with the CEQ, to develop a plan by May 2011, for implementing the President’s goal.

The Task Force began meeting late in 2010, and on March 1, 2011, issued a Request for Comments in the Federal Register, posing questions on several aspects of the e-waste problem.   The Electronics TakeBack Coalition submitted comments on March 9 and a letter on March 10.

July 2011: Task Force Report- National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship

In July 2011, the Task Force issued its report, now called the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship Report.  This report outlines some policies and some guidance for how the federal agencies will move forward. They have a chart for tracking their progress: National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship progress reporting February 21 2012.xls

While one of the stated goals of the Task Force was to “Ensure that the Federal Government Leads by Example” on managing e-waste, this report was very disappointing on the significant issue of e-waste export.  Read more on our blog: Federal task force gets it wrong on e-waste exports.

GAO Report

In March 2012, the GAO released a report on federal e-waste management, called:
“ELECTRONIC WASTE- Actions Needed to Provide Assurance That Used Federal Electronics Are Disposed of in an Environmentally Responsible Manner.”  The report finds that federal agencies are not able to assure that their used electronics are managed responsibly, with many being sold in large lots at auction.

See our summary of this report and comments on our blog: GAO Report Finds Feds Not Always Managing Own E-Waste Responsibly.

Specific Agency Policies, Activities on E-Waste

GSA – Government Services Agency (the primary purchaser for the federal government)

Feb 29, 2012 – GSA issued a new policy bulletin on management of used electronics. This is a voluntary guidance document to agencies, but not mandatory.

Information on federal legislation is here.