EPA Backs Us Out of the Trash Can
Yesterday in Austin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made an announcement with the help of Michael Dell and the CEO of Sprint that it plans to roll out an aggressive electronics recycling program, which I was happy to read about. Dell and Sprint were the first members of the technology industry to volunteer to take part in the program.
The U.S. is by far the largest consumer of electronic gadgets, devices and technology, and we're all craving the latest and greatest device. This means we're dumping an endless amount of hardware into landfills that contain some materials that often times end up being toxic if left alone.
During the past few months there are have been several articles coming out about the battery factories in China that are leaking highly toxic chemicals such as lead, where more than 300 people (including 99 children) were found to have dangerous levels of lead poisoning. There is also quite a bit of geopolitical controversy around China's ownership of key rare earth materials that are critical components of technology products.
Just like everything else in this world, if we use too much, we'll run out - so the fact that the EPA is stepping up with influencial members of the technology industry to revamp how we discard electronic equipment is a big step, in my opinion. Sure, the government is often blasted for its bureaucracy and sluggishness, but I think this move couldn't come at a better time. And good for Dell and Sprint for going out on limb to be the first participants, which can't be a cheap venture for them (initially).
If we're going to continue our rampant demand for new technology products, we need to do something better than throw them in the trash when we're done with them. The next thing the EPA needs to do is make it incredibly easy to recycle the products - if it's time consuming and arduous, the program is going to run into problems.