Recycling Electronics Has Environmental and Financial Benefits

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EPA has spent about $2 million on several voluntary programs to help overcome some of the factors discouraging recycling and reuse of used electronics. For example, the "Plug-In To eCycling" campaign sponsors partnerships with industry and state and local governments to make recycling used electronics less expensive and more convenient for consumers. In 2004, Plug-In To eCycling sponsored four pilot projects involving collection events at retailers such as Best Buy, Good Guys, Office Depot, and Staples, in which over 11 million pounds of used electronics were collected. Another program—the Federal Electronics Challenge—leverages U.S. government purchasing power to promote environmentally preferable management of used electronics throughout their life cycle: procurement, operation and maintenance, and end-of-life management. Through its participation in this program, the Bonneville

Power Administration [BPA] has already documented cost savings associated with longer life spans for the agency's computers and through purchases of computer monitors that contain less toxic substances and are therefore cheaper to recycle. To date, however, only 61 out of thousands of federal facilities participate in the Federal Electronics Challenge. A major reason for the limited federal participation in this and other EPA electronics recycling programs is that, unlike other successful federal procurement programs (such as EPA's and the Department of Energy's Energy Star program), participation is not required. . . .

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