Reducing e-waste not only conserves resources and keeps toxins out of the environment, it also saves money in waste management costs — and can help firms avoid costly compliance fees as a result of illegally storing or disposing of e-waste.
Machine Design offers five strategies to reduce e-waste. These include upgrading hardware or software instead of purchasing new devices, and selling or donating old electronics that still work.
Another tip the magazine suggests: know the locations of local electronics collection centers. Apple takes back its own products, while Staples and Best Buy accept a variety of used electronics and e-waste. Additionally, on its website, e-stewards.org, e-Stewards offers a “find a recycler” feature. The EPA also offers a search feature that determines if the product’s manufacturer will take back any given electronic item as well as offering mail-in options.
Companies can also minimize e-waste by buying products certified by the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT), a global electronics registry that rates mobile phones, televisions, printers, copiers and other imaging equipment, and computers and displays.
“It’s interesting to know that there is a continuing need to alert purchasers to the environmental impacts of electronics — and to see that once their awareness is raised, many are eager to find effective ways to act to reduce their impacts,” says Sarah O’Brien, director of global stakeholder engagement for the Green Electronics Council, the program manager for the EPEAT program. “Organizations often want to reduce the environmental impacts of their purchasing but are unsure how to proceed. By reaching out to offer guidance, we in the sustainable electronics community can empower purchasers to adopt EPEAT and reduce the impact of their IT operations.”
A new report produced by the Delta Institute, in consultation with the Green Electronics Council and the University of Illinois Survey Research Laboratory says companies’ purchasing decisions can play a key role in reducing e-waste.