GSA pushing agencies to reuse, recycle electronics

Monday - 8/4/2014, 6:27pm EDT

Kate Brandt, White House Council on Environmental Quality

Download mp3

By Stephanie Wasko
Special to Federal News Radio

The General Services Administration plans to have draft governmentwide policies for reusing and recycling used electronics by the end of this fiscal year. Kevin Kampschroer, deputy senior sustainability official for GSA announced the agency's efforts at the release of the updated national strategy for sustainable electronics.

When it comes to sustainable electronics practices, Kampschroer said GSA's strategy "addresses the management of electronics throughout the product's lifestyle from design to eventual re-use and recycling."

The agency is focusing on three key areas including the revision of government policy and guidance, acquisition of more sustainably designed products, reusable electronics products and more transparency of sustainable electronics data, according to Kampschroer.

Kampschroer said GSA released its proposed rule on the reuse and recycle of agency electronics for public comments in March.

According to the policy, agencies should offer used electronics to other federal agencies, transfer the used electronics to educational organizations, or donate them to state or local governments or non-profit organizations.

The rule also allows for agencies to return their used electronics to the original seller, said Kampschroer. GSA is implementing "take back" provisions in many of its IT contracts and is working on guidelines for all agencies to add these provisions to their contracts, Kampschroer said.

For non-working electronics, the new rule has agencies turn these products into certified recyclers instead of throwing them in landfills, which could cause environmental harm, Kampschroer said. He said GSA's schedule lists third-party certified electronics recyclers that can be used.

"GSA is leveraging its purchasing power to drive the electronics manufacturing and recycling industries toward more sustainable products and practices," Kampschroer said.

GSA is also pushing for the purchase of more sustainably designed electronics that make the recycling process easier.

"We will continue to improve our contract vehicles in order to simplify federal agencies acquisition of green electronic," Kampschroer said.

GSA already provides agencies with tools such as ENERGY STAR to find greener electronic options, according to Kampschroer.

Finally, the new rule would begin the collection of data on the use and recyling of electronics, which does not currently exist, said Kampschroer. GSA looks to provide greater transparency on how agencies are following the national strategy for sustainable electronics.

GSA is in the process of answering all 96 pages of comments it received on the proposed rule and Kampschroer said it hopes to have a draft rule circulating over the next few months.

In addition to working on governmentwide policies, GSA also made green electronic efforts by joining the U.S. Postal Service's Blue Earth Federal Recycling Program along with EPA, the Defense Department and the Peace Corps at the national strategy release Monday morning.

The Blue Earth Federal Recycling Program allows agencies to recycle their used electronics at no charge through the USPS.

These efforts follow the goals outlined in the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship released by the Obama Administration June 2011 and updated this month.

Stephanie Wasko is an intern with Federal News Radio.

RELATED STORIES:

Postal Service's BlueEarth Program helps agencies safely clear up clutter

Kevin Kampschroer, Deputy Senior Sustainability Officer, GSA

GSA guide to ensure electronics are green to the end