During a Congressional electronics recycling hearing last week, a government official said federal agencies may soon be required to publicly report how they are disposing of end-of-life electronics, a development that could have significant implications for the data-starved e-scrap industry.
The remarks came from Kevin Kampschroer, a senior sustainability officer at the U.S. General Services Agency (GSA), during a Senate committee meeting that aimed to develop ideas on how the federal government can more effectively recycle end-of-life electronics. The federal government is the nation's single largest generator of used electronics material.
"GSA, working with other federal agencies, is considering a policy that will include a requirement for agencies to submit data for all disposed electronics," Kampschroer said in testimony before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. "This data, which could be publicly available on Data.gov, would provide greater transparency into federal agencies' performance against the goals of the [National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship]."
Though Kampschroer stopped short of outlining the specifics or timeline for such a policy, the mere mention of federal government e-scrap data caught the attention of industry leaders, including one e-scrap executive who was sitting across the room.
"If the federal government turns around and says, 'We disposed of a million tons or 2 million tons last year and here's what we did with it,' that would be a level of hard data no one has ever seen," said Steve Skurnac, who, as president of Sims Recycling Solutions, helped represent the e-scrap industry at the hearing. "I think every recycler and advocate for environmentally sound electronics recycling is going to be keen to see what those government reports look like when they finally come out."
Since 2012, federal agencies have followed a GSA policy that encourages reuse of electronics when possible and bans those items from landfills at end-of-life. The policy, which was crafted in response to an executive order from President Obama, directs agencies to route old electronics to e-scrap recycling firms certified to R2 or e-Stewards standards. But no formal process exists to check that the guidelines are actually being followed.
Skurnac, in fact, mentioned the need for more government e-scrap reporting in his own testimony. "The executive order has great intentions," he said in an interview this week with E-Scrap News. "But my comment was that we have no idea whether it's being followed or having any impact or not."
*For more information go to http://resource-recycling.com