Archive for the 'Electronic Waste' Category

International E-waste Design Competition Turns Refuse into Resource

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 by

Electronic waste, or “E-Waste,” generated by computers, TVs, cameras, printers, and cell phones, is a growing global issue. According to the U.S. EPA, Americans currently own nearly 3 billion electronic products and as new products are purchased, obsolete products are stored or discarded at alarming rates. About two-thirds of the electronic devices removed from service are still in working order. However, only about 15% of this material is recycled while the vast majority is disposed in landfills. The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is pleased to announce the International E-Waste Design Competition, in which participants will explore solutions to this problem at the local level and beyond, by using e-waste components to create appealing and useful products.

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SEI "Ask an Expert" Service Provides Information on Electronics and the Environment

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009 by

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), is pleased to announce the availability of its online “Ask an Expert” service for the submission of questions related to electronics and their environmental impacts.

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Protecting the Great Lakes 4 Million Times

Thursday, August 13th, 2009 by

“Collect 1 Million Pounds of e-waste and 1 Million Unwanted Pills” was the US EPA’s 2008 Earth Day Challenge to residents, businesses and communities around the Great Lakes. Thousands of residents responded by participating in events to properly dispose of unwanted medicines and to collect and recycle electronic waste during the week of April 19 -27, 2008. The 2008 Earth Day Challenge collected the equivalent of 4,400,000 pills and approximately 4,950,000 pounds of e-waste, as reported by 23 unwanted medicine events and 33 e-waste collection events that were held around the Great Lakes (see Tables 1 & 2). The response to the call for events by the US EPA Great Lakes National Program Office was overwhelming and demonstrates the strong interest Great Lakers have in their Lakes, their communities and doing the right thing for their environment. 

 Why do we want to keep medicines out of the trash and our wastewater (the toilet, sink and septic)? In the United States, sales of over-the-counter medicines have increased by 60% since the 1990s.[1]  In 2006, the U.S. prescription volume rose to 3.7 billion prescriptions.[2] With these increases come concern about the fate and effects of these compounds in the environment. Recent studies have identified a wide range of pharmaceutical chemicals in rivers and streams nationwide,[3]  and it has also been shown that some of these compounds are potentially harmful to aquatic organisms, affecting reproduction and development even at low concentrations.[4] The fate of pharmaceutical chemicals in sewage sludge is also of concern, as sludge from wastewater treatment is often applied to agricultural land as a fertilizer. The long-term impacts of medicine disposal on our health and the health of the environment are not fully known. However, unless action is taken, the quantity of these chemicals reaching our waterways will continue to increase as pharmaceutical usage increases.[5]

 


[1] Ann Pistell, Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Presentation at Northeast Water Science Forum, August 9, 2007.

[2] “IMS Intelligence.360: Global Pharmaceutical Perspectives 2006”, IMS Health Report, February 22, 2007. http://www.imshealth.com/ims/portal/front/articleC/0,2777,6599_40183881_81567488,00.html

[3] Kolpin, Dana W., et al. “Pharmaceuticals, Hormones, and Other Organic Wastewater Contaminants in U.S. Streams, 1999-2000: A National Reconnaissance.” Environ. Science and Technology. Vol. 36 no. 6 (2002): pp. 1202-1211.

[4] For example, see Nash, Jon P., et al. “Long-Term Exposure to Environmental Concentrations of the Pharmaceutical Ethynylestradiol Causes Reproductive Failure in Fish.” Environmental Health Perspectives. 112.17 (2004): pp. 1725-1733.

[5] Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant, “Disposal of Unwanted Medicines: A Resource for Action in Your Community.” Februrary 2008. p. 2  http://www.iisgcp.org/unwantedmeds

More Details: Protecting the Great Lakes 4 Million Times

Call for Papers Goes Out for the Electronics & Sustainability: Design for Energy & the Environment Symposium

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 by

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), hosted by the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC), a unit of the Institute of Natural Resources Sustainability on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a consortium dedicated to the development and implementation of a more sustainable system for designing, producing, remanufacturing, and recycling electronic devices. Members of the consortium include academia, non-profit organizations, government agencies, manufacturers, designers, refurbishers, and recyclers. Specific elements of the SEI include programs for research, education, data management, and technical assistance. SEI conducts collaborative research; facilitates networking and information exchange among participants; promotes technology diffusion via demonstration projects; and provides forums for the discussion of policy and legislation.

Americans own nearly three billion electronic products and continually purchase new ones to replace those deemed “obsolete,” even though about two-thirds of the devices are still in working order. To address this burgeoning e-waste problem, SEI will hold the Electronics & Sustainability: Design for Energy & the Environment symposium on February 23 – 24, 2010 at the I Hotel on the University of Illinois campus. Topics to be addressed will include environmental toxicology, life cycle analysis, product design, existing and proposed policy (local, state, national, and international), and more. Designers; electrical engineers; chemists; materials scientists; electronics manufacturers, recyclers, refurbishers, and remanufacturers; government representatives and policy makers; pollution prevention technical assistance providers; relevant non-profit organizations; and others are invited to take part in this symposium.

SEI invites industry and academic practitioners to submit abstracts of their recent research, projects, and design thinking for presentation, publications, or both Proposals can be made for symposium participation in one or more of the following categories: a paper, presentation, panel discussion, or poster display.

For more information about the symposium and/or to access the call for papers, visit: www.sustainelectronics.illinois.edu or contact Wayne Duke, Conference Coordinator, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, Illinois 61820-7465, 217-333-5793, fax: 217-333-8944, wduke@illinois.edu.

For more information about the Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), contact Dr. Tim Lindsey, PhD, Associate Director, Illinois Sustainable Technology Center, One Hazelwood Drive, Champaign, Illinois 61820-7465, 217-333-8955, fax: 217-333-8944, tlindsey@istc.illinois.edu.

New GLRPPR Sector Resource on Electronic Waste

Friday, May 22nd, 2009 by

Recently Indiana became the 19th state in the U.S. to enact electronic waste regulations with the signing of HB 1589. The group of states with such regulations also includes Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois in the Great Lakes region. According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New York will be considering e-waste legislation in 2009. At the local level, New York City also has electronic waste regulations. At the federal level, H.R. 1580, the Electronic Waste Research and Development Act, has been voted upon by the U.S. House of Representatives and been received by the Senate.

Given this trend, it seems appropriate to launch a resource collection on the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable (GLRPPR) site focused specifically on e-waste issues. The GLRPPR Electronic Waste Sector Resource will include links to relevant legislation, news, events, funding opportunities, and contacts. This resource list is under development, so if you are aware of resources for e-waste programs in your state, please feel free to send links to Joy Scrogum for potential inclusion in this new resource list. An RSS feed is available for the Electronic Waste Sector Resource so you can be aware of new resources as they are added.

GLRPPR is a member of the Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange (P2Rx) a national network of pollution prevention information centers. Another P2Rx center, the Western Sustainability Pollution Prevention Network (WSPPN) has also developed a P2Rx Topic Hub on Electronic Waste. This is linked to within the new Sector Resource on the GLRPPR site and is also available on the main GLRPPR Topic Hub page.

December 2008 Site of the Month: Consumer Reports Greener Choices

Monday, December 1st, 2008 by

It’s holiday time again, which means you’re probably going to buy at least one gift for someone, as well as items for celebrations and holiday meals. You may wish to consult Consumer Reports Greener Choices web site, which provides information to help choose more environmentally friendly products. Articles and “green ratings” are available for the following product categories: Appliances, Cars, Electronics, Food & Beverages, and Home & Garden.  Within these sections, you’ll find links to articles, information on conservation of resources (such as energy, water, fuel, etc.), resources for shopping greener, and information on recycling and disposal. The “Hot Topics & Solutions” section of the site includes the Eco-labels Center (which helps you interpret what product labels really mean), the Electronics Recycling Center, the Global Warming Solutions Center, and sections on Energy, Water, and Waste.

The “Toolkit” section includes calculators to help save energy, water, and money, as well as a Toxics Search tool to find out whether there’s a potential for exposure while using a particular product, and how that can affect your health. The “Community” section of the site includes links to Consumers Union campaigns, forums and resources for further information, as well as blogs on cars, food safety, green homes, and safety.

IL Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act

Thursday, September 25th, 2008 by

On September 17, 2008, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich announced legislation requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycle or reuse electronics products. At no charge to consumers, the law authorizes the use of a combination of incentives and mandates to reduce the ever-increasing amount of electronic waste – televisions, printers, computer monitors, computers, laptops, printers, fax machines and MP3 players – and their toxic substances, such as lead, cadmium, copper, flame retardants, and phosphorus, from being disposed in Illinois landfills.  It also gives manufacturers flexibility in the strategies they use to meet their goals, such as partnering with retailers and local governments to sponsor collections.  Manufacturers, recyclers, refurbishers and collectors must also register annually with the Illinois EPA. Effective January 1, 2012, landfills would be prohibited from knowingly accepting any of the covered electronic devices for disposal. SB 2313 is effective immediately.

For further information on SB 2313, as well as a link to the resulting Public Act (095-0959; the Electronic Products Recycling and Reuse Act), see the Illinois General Assembly web site.

August 2008 Site of the Month: INFORM, Inc.

Friday, August 1st, 2008 by

INFORM, Inc. is “dedicated to educating the public about the effects of human activity on the environment and public health.” Its goal is to “empower citizens, businesses and government to adopt practices and policies that will sustain our planet for future generations.”

The ININFORM logoFORM web site provides information on current projects, including Waste Prevention: Extended Producer Responsibility, Cleaning for Health, and INFORM Media, the organization’s effort to spread environmental literacy by “making strategic use of video and the web to reach a greatly expanded audience with critically important information about how to preserve the environment and protect human health.” Thus far, INFORM has produced “The Secret Life of Cell Phones” as part of its media project, with future videos planned to focus on paper, jeans, antibacterial soaps and single-use plastic bottles.

The INFORM site also provides publications and topical RSS feeds. New site features reportedly “coming soon” will include blogs and a “tools and calculators” section.

Draft Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy Open for Public Comments

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007 by

The Great Lakes Regional Collaboration announces a sixty day public comment period for a Draft Great Lakes Mercury in Products Phase-Down Strategy. In fulfillment of a Collaboration Strategy recommendation, in April 2006, State, Tribal, and City staff commenced development of a basin-wide Strategy for the phase-down of mercury in products and waste.

A draft Strategy is now available for public comment at http://glrc.us/initiatives/toxics/drafthgphasedownstrategy.html, through October 27, 2007. We invite comments on the Strategy itself and on how best to move forward with implementation, as well as commitments from stakeholders to implement components of the Strategy.

A copy of the draft document was first distributed to government agency experts for technical review, then revised and distributed to a limited group of industry and environmental group stakeholders. A summary of comments that were received and incorporated can also be found at the above web link.

Please send comments electronically to Debra Jacobson at djacobso@wmrc.uiuc.edu. When sending comments by e-mail be sure to put the words “Great Lakes Mercury Strategy Comments” in the subject line.

If you have questions please contact Debra Jacobson at djacobso@wmrc.uiuc.edu or (630) 472 – 5019 (Phone).

Thanks to Deb Jacobson for submitting this information.

WasteCap Wisconsin June 2007 Bulletin Available

Friday, June 15th, 2007 by

Ok, so end-of-pipe recycling is not technically considered pollution prevention in the strictest sense of the term; it is often argued that only in-process recycling counts. But folks interested in P2 also tend to be interested in diverting waste from landfills, especially if that waste can be turned into an asset and put to further use, at the source or otherwise. Plus, many P2 professionals are becoming more and more interested in the concepts of product stewardship and extender producer responsibility, which include thinking about how to reuse and recycle materials once they’ve served their original purpose. Information on recycling and recycled-content products is also of interest in matters of environmentally preferable purchasing and green building. So, beneficial reuse is part of my personal sense of the intention of pollution prevention, and yes, I am going to talk about end-of-pipe recycling in this P2 blog. Gasp if you must, and direct all criticisms to me (Joy).

WasteCap Wisconsin LogoIf you’re interested in beneficial reuse in general, and specifically in construction and demolition debris recycling, electronics recycling, and organic material recycling (composting, food donation, scraps for animal feed, etc.), check out WasteCap Wisconsin’s web site. They offer case studies, publications, training opportunities, and other resources on these issues. They also produce a monthly e-mail bulletin chock full of case studies, resources, news, information on recycling technologies, legislation, events, and profiles of member organizations. The June 2007 issue is available online, and archived issues are available all the way back to 2005. Information on signing up for the bulletin is available on the WasteCap Wisconsin home page.