Monday, March 19, 2012

Electronic Waste: Actions Needed to Provide Assurance That Used Federal Electronics Are Disposed of in an Environmentally Responsible Manner -- GAO

Electronic Waste: Actions Needed to ProvideAssurance That Used Federal Electronics Are Disposed of in an EnvironmentallyResponsible Manner, GAO-12-74, February 17.

From the Summary:

"Federal agencies have made some progress to improve their management of used electronic products, as measured by greater participation in the FEC and an increase in certified electronics recyclers, but opportunities exist to expand their efforts. For instance, agency participation in the FEC represents only about one-third of the federal workforce. GAO identified challenges with the tracking and reporting on the disposition of federal electronic equipment. For the five agencies GAO reviewed (Departments of Defense, Energy, Education, and Housing and Urban Development and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration), data provided on the disposition of electronic products were inconsistent, which hampered GAO’s efforts to accurately assess the extent to which electronic products procured by federal agencies are disposed of in an environmentally sound manner. Challenges associated with clarifying agencies’ responsibility for used electronics sold through auctions also remain. Currently, neither the agency nor the auction entities are required to determine whether purchasers follow environmentally sound end-of-life practices. Not having controls over the ultimate disposition of electronics sold through these auctions creates opportunities for buyers to purchase federal electronics and export them to countries with less stringent environmental and health standards. Other challenges that may impede progress toward improving federal agencies’ management of used electronics include defining key terms such as “electronic product” and “environmentally sound practices,” as each agency uses its own definition of electronic products to report progress in implementing policies for electronics stewardship."

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