Promoting Electronics Recycling and New Jobs

At the ROUND2 electronics recycling facility in Austin, Texas, American
workers dismantle, sort, test and repair a steady stream of discarded
printers, computers and other electronics. The millions of pounds of
electronic waste that ROUND2 processes each year are kept out of
landfills here and abroad, and the valuable materials in them are
reused. In addition, ROUND2's e-cycling business is also creating good
jobs. The company has put several hundred people to work nationwide, and
just last February the Austin facility announced plans to hire 52 more
technical staff members.

Seeing the economic and environmental opportunities in e-cycling, I
visited ROUND2's Austin campus today, where I stood with Michael Dell,
CEO of Dell Inc., Dan Hesse, CEO of Sprint, Mark Price, Vice President
of Sony Electronics, and several government officials to announce the
Obama administration's National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship. To
fortify the National Strategy, we also announced a commitment from Dell,
Sprint and Sony to use private sector business practices that will
strengthen our homegrown e-cycling industry and create jobs for American

Government and industry are working together to tackle an environmental
and health issue in a way that supports innovation, cuts costs and
creates good jobs. It's an important effort at an important time.
Already, the United States generates some 2.5 million tons of electronic
waste per year. Not only do those discarded electronics contain
potentially dangerous chemicals and pollutants, they also have precious
metals, rare earth materials, plastic and glass that can be recovered
and recycled, reducing the economic costs and environmental impacts of
securing and processing new materials for new products.

It is also critically important that we undertake this National Strategy
with the active involvement of the private sector. Dell, which Newsweek
ranked as 2010's greenest company in the United States, has been a
leader in responsible electronics management. Dell has worked for years
to improve e-waste recovery, and also partnered with the EPA on efforts
that reduced the amount of lead in their products by more than 19
million pounds. Sprint has already collected more than 25 million
discarded mobile phones. Sprint has set an ambitious goal that, by 2017,
they will be reusing or recycling nine phones for every 10 they sell.
Sony has partnered with EPA since 2004 and collected and recycled almost
3 million pounds of used consumer electronics.

To effectively tackle e-waste, we need to think about everything from
how to design more efficient and sustainable technology, to making sure
consumers have widespread access to recycling drop off locations and
other options for easily donating or recycling used electronics. Private
sector involvement is instrumental to ensuring that the process of
research, innovation, development and commercialization of a new product
is not complete without also focusing on recycling.

Of course, EPA and its federal government partners have a role to play
as well. President Obama has called on us -- as the nation's largest
consumer of electronics -- to lead by example on electronics stewardship.
The National Strategy we are announcing today explains how the federal
government will:

  • Promote the development of more efficient and sustainable electronic products;
  • Direct federal agencies to buy, use, reuse and recycle their electronics responsibly;
  • Support recycling options and systems for American consumers; and
  • Strengthen America's role in international electronics stewardship.

The success of ROUND2 is just the beginning of creating jobs by
increasing electronics recycling nationwide. The leadership of President
Obama on this issue -- combined with the commitments of companies like
Dell, Sprint and Sony- - sends a very strong signal about the bright
future of the e-cycling industry in this country. Fostering the growth
of a market for electronics recycling can help American companies create
good jobs in a field that supports cleaner communities today, and a
cleaner future tomorrow.

The history of protecting our health and our environment is a history of
innovation. Better ideas and new products have helped make almost
everything we do cleaner, healthier and more energy-efficient. That
history has also shown us that the engines of our economy run best when
they run clean.

The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship is
another chapter of that history, in which environmental protection,
innovation, and economic growth work hand in hand.