EPA first guinea pig to gnaw on new electronics recycling program

Sep 09, 2005 | 09:14 AM | Paul Schaffer

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be acting as its own guinea pig in establishing the viability of a government-wide electronics recycling program announced in December.

"Nobody wants to be the first fish in the pond," Oliver Voss, the EPA's procurement service center manager for information resources, said.

The dominant federal pattern is to hand off old equipment to the government's General Services Administration (GSA), which arranges for auctions through a contractor. "GSA gets the revenue from the auctions," Voss said. "They can dispose of an agency's property at essentially no cost."

However, from an environmental viewpoint the ultimate fate of GSA's electronic lots is questionable. "When GSA auctions it off, they don't know where it ends up," Voss said. "It could end up in the Far East two years off."

The leftovers from GSA auctions get broken up by Technology Recovery Services Inc., Cleveland Ohio.

EPA's Voss said he has outlined the new recycling structure to officials from the Interior, Labor and Energy departments and the U.S. Air Force. The EPA believes other federal agencies will be willing to pay $3 to $5 per desktop computer to be sure that equipment is recycled or resold in an environmentally responsible way, he said, but such potential customers are reluctant to commit themselves until they see how the arrangement works for handling the EPA's own discards.....





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