|Reaction to White House e-Waste plan
By Jeremy Carroll | WRN reporter
July 25 -- The long-awaited report on electronic stewardship from the Obama administration was met with mixed feelings from industry experts, with some calling it practical and others saying it didn´t go far enough.
The 34-page report, titled "National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship," was released as Obama administration officials gathered at Round2 Recycling Facility in Austin, Texas, on July 20, to discuss the findings of an interagency taskforce.
"This is an important effort because there are serious health, environmental and economic consequences to inaction on this issue," U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said during a conference call to discuss the report.
Several agencies including the EPA, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and General Services Administration issued the report, requested by President Barack Obama in November.
Officials from the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI) lauded the report, saying it took concrete, practical steps to address end-of-life electronics and how they could be reused.
"It is encouraging to see that the government is taking a strong position on the responsible management of these materials," said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, in a statement.
She said the group was more encouraged that the administration did not make a specific call for a ban of exports of e-waste. There are two bills in Congress that would ban exports to developing countries.
"Today´s announcement includes practical, effective steps that actually address bad actors instead of shutting down an industry," Wiener said.
Environmental groups the Basel Action Network and the Electronic TakeBack Coalition both said the report had some good recommendations on green design and using only certified recyclers for disposal, but failed on discussing e-waste exporting.
"We are very disappointed that the taskforce missed the opportunity handed to them by President Obama´s mandate to truly lead by example and ensure that all federal agencies do the right thing and not export obsolete used electronic equipment unless it is fully functional," said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator of the Electronic TakeBack Coalition, a group that promotes responsible recycling of e-waste, in a statement.
The federal government will leverage its purchasing power to drive the electronics manufacturing and recycling industries toward more sustainable products and practices, the report said.