Program News...

Planning for the eventual end-of-life management of electronic products generally takes a backseat to performance and price considerations when making purchasing decisions. Fortunately there are resources available to provide guidance on environmentally preferred procurement practices.

The first step in reducing electronic waste takes place before the equipment is even purchased. When deciding to purchase equipment, it is important to consider a number of factors that can impact the recyclability and efficiency of the equipment. Besides the equipment itself, the packaging the product arrives in also needs to be managed. Cardboard, plastic, and foamed polystyrene or polyurethane are common packaging materials. Some customers arrange with the product suppliers to take back the packaging while others arrange for these materials to be recycled.

CalRecycle has documented some of its efforts to buy, use and manage electronic equipment.

To get started, review A Guide to Environmentally Preferable Computer Purchasing developed by the Northwest Product Stewardship Council. This guide provides useful information to use when making a purchasing decision.  While designed for computer purchasing decisions, the suggestions can also apply to other electronic equipment.

The U.S. EPA's recently published WasteWise Update on Electronics Reuse and Recycling also contains good guidance on electronic product procurement. (Note: if you decide to print this document, which is available as a PDF, we suggest you do so in black and white—not color.) 

Procurement tips are also included in CalRecycle's fact sheet Managing Electronic Equipment.

Related Procurement Issues

U.S. EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program
"...products or services that have a lesser or reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose..."--Executive Order 13101

U.S. EPA's Design for the Environment Program
Helps businesses incorporate environmental considerations into the design and redesign of products, processes, and technical and management systems. Initiated by EPA's Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (OPPT) in 1992, DfE forms voluntary partnerships with industry, universities, research institutions, public interest groups, and other government agencies. 

U.S. EPA and Department of Energy's Energy Star Program
ENERGY STAR is a dynamic government/industry partnership that makes it easy for businesses and consumers to save money and protect the environment. The ENERGY STAR label on products like clothes washers, TVs/VCRs, heating and cooling equipment, and more to save money on energy bills and help the environment at the same time.