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American eco-targets for electronics ‘too easy to meet’

United States – ‘After half a decade of extensive engagement from the reuse community and environmental experts, green standards have demonstrated an inability to substantially evolve,’ concludes analyst Mark Schaffer in a report detailing the disconnect between electronics producers on one side and e-cycling players on the other.

‘The recycling, repair and refurbishing community is not unified enough to push back against manufacturers on the standards boards,’ writes Schaffer, who runs Schaffer Environmental LLC.

He points out that green standards are meant to lead the IT industry – but US electronics standards have become ‘too easy’ for manufacturers to meet.

A key problem, he says, is that commercial politics are holding back eco-targets. Manufacturers hold so many positions on green electronics standards boards ‘that they can effectively resist leadership standards’, Schaffer claims. Also, durability is not included in American electronics standards.

Another point of concern is that products have changed ‘drastically’ over the last few years, with thousands of new models of devices released each year. 

According to Schaffer, US green standards have not kept up with the rapid pace of innovation in the electronics market and ‘many standards are in need of rigorous updates’.

In his view, American eco-standards could again lead, but only if manufacturers embrace recommendations from the international R&D community and stop their consistent opposition to stronger reuse, recycling and repair criteria.

A first step would be to ensure that US standards boards have more diverse representation, in terms of numbers, from recyclers and refurbishers so that sustainable points of view are included during the development of standards, he argues.

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