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New guidelines encourage responsible recycling of electronics (11/3)

November 3, 2008
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Electronics recyclers have a new guide on how to run safe and environmentally protective recycling operations, the EPA announced in a press statement. EPA, as part of a group of recycling stakeholders, developed the “Responsible Recycling (R2) Practices for Use in Accredited Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers” to promote better environmental, worker safety, and public health practices for electronics recyclers.

“There should be no doubt that choosing to reuse or recycle used electronics is the right choice for our environment,” said Susan Parker Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “These voluntary guidelines will help assure Americans that their used electronics will be recycled safely and responsibly.”

The R2 guide lists 13 principles to help electronics recyclers ensure their material is handled safely and legally in the U.S. and foreign countries. It calls on recyclers to establish a management system for environmental and worker safety; develop a policy that promotes reuse and material recovery over landfill or incineration; and use practices that reduce exposures or emissions during recycling operations. The principles also call for recyclers to use diligence to assure appropriate management of materials throughout the recycling chain, including materials that are exported to foreign countries.

Reusing and recycling used electronics helps the environment by saving energy and conserving natural resources. When improperly managed, however, used electronics can release materials that raise environmental and health concerns.

The workgroup that developed the guidelines represent federal and state governments, electronics manufacturers and recyclers, and trade associations. The workgroup will now focus on establishing a certification process, which will allow consumers easily to recognize responsible recyclers in the marketplace.

Information about the guidelines: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/conserve/materials/ecycling/r2practices.htm.

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