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Electronics Recyclers Call for Improved E-Waste Processing

epeatgecElectronics recyclers and refurbishers are recommending several key changes to manufacturers on how they design electronic products and the information they need to improve processing of used devices.

They point to several key changes to enhance end-of-life (EOL) value recovery and process efficiency, including enhanced communications tools, product design for greater durability and reuse, eliminating hazardous substances, and improvements in materials separation through design.

A new report from the Green Electronics Council (GEC), “Closing the Loop: Product Design to Enhance Reuse/Recycling Value,” identifies several research priorities to increase the cost effectiveness and resource efficiency of e-scrap recycling. The findings provide a starting point for the research on improved product design for end-of-life per HR 1580 — The Electronic Waste Research and Development Act, recently approved by Congress, said GEC.

The report also recommends the development of a “Close the Loop Registry” — a Web-based centralized access point for product information about the attributes of particular products such as the location and number of screws and fasteners, location of hazardous substances, and information on identification and separation of plastics. This searchable database will help EOL managers more effectively and efficiently breakdown and recycle products without delays, according to the report.

The research and report were conducted in cooperation with the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER) and E-Scrap News and funded through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OSWER Innovations Pilot Projects.

The research team will provide the Close the Loop product design recommendations to congressional staff and House Members working on HR 1580, and distribute the findings to eco-label and environmental standards organizations, such as the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) system that provides information to computer product purchasers on environmentally-rated products.

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