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Global sustainability standard for electronics?

US accreditation group Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) plans to develop globally recognised reporting standards as well as a certification programme for the electronics industry.

Currently, there is no globally accepted standard for businesses to report the ESG (environmental, social, and governance) impacts of their electronics, SERI notes. The non-profit organisation intends to fill that gap with standards modelled similarly to SERI’s R2 standard for sustainable electronics reuse and recycling. The latter has been adopted by more than 1 050 electronics reuse and recycling facilities in more than 40 countries.

‘Today, organisations are working hard to measure all of their direct and indirect carbon impacts for ESG reporting,’ says SERI’s executive director Corey Dehmey. ‘When you think about all the different variables within any business, it gets very complex very quickly.’

E-scrap: a complex puzzle

‘We realise that the carbon impact stemming from electronics may only represent a relatively small piece of the puzzle,’ Dehmey adds. With so many businesses using computers, data centres, mobile phones etc. in their daily operations, he argues that an ESG Reporting Standard for electronics is ‘an important part of the larger picture’.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, there is a stronger demand for information about a company. The tricky thing for recyclers is that around approximately 80% of the carbon impact of electronics is created before a device is taken out of its box.

Dehmey concedes that creating a universally adopted standard is only the first half of the task. ‘Reported data is only good as far as it can be trusted. The second half of the task is to build in verification to ensure that what is reported is accurate.

‘As a champion of electronics sustainability, we want to work as a convener and bring all the various parts of our industry together and contribute to the larger push for a true global economy,’ he concludes.

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