A recent study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that electronics recycling standards are working as intended. The study confirmed that the two voluntary certification programs offered in the U.S., the Responsible Recycling Standard for Electronics Recyclers (R2) and the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment (e-Stewards) are being implemented properly. Electronic recycling programs that are certified by R2 or e-Stewards must conform to several rules that help ensure safe and environmentally-friendly recycling practices for electronics.
The components in gadgets like obsolete computers can damage the environment and pose health and safety hazards if they aren’t properly disposed. Unfortunately, the United Nations found that as much as 90 percent of the world’s electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped each year. The R2 and e-Stewards certifications help consumers find companies that follow standards that maximize reuse and recycling, minimize exposure of toxic materials, ensure groundwater protection, and require that data is destroyed. Some programs will even pay people for valuable electronic parts and then properly recycle the remaining material.
The study concluded that standards are being implemented and they are achieving the desired results. However, the EPA does recommend some steps for improving the programs, such providing additional training, making regular updates to the standards, and allowing enough time for thorough audits. “EPA’s study affirms that e-Stewards and R2 certification programs are helping to improve the responsible management of used electronics in the United States,” said Mathy Stanislaus, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management. “We remain committed to continuing the dialogue started by this study to identify opportunities for continued improvement in management of used electronics.”