GLRPPR Sector Resource: Reducing E-Waste Through Purchasing Decisions
Reducing E-Waste Through Purchasing Decisions
Purchasing decisions made by companies for electronic office equipment, such as computers, printers, and fax machines, are often not made with the equipment end-of-life disposition in mind. Purchasing agents develop technical specifications for office equipment and make final purchasing decisions based on the needs of their users. The end result is that final disposition of this electronic waste, or e-waste, may sometimes be through the trash or through unchecked third party disposal companies which increases the potential for contaminants to enter the environment. The Delta Institute, in consultation with the Green Electronics Council (GEC) -- the program manager for the EPEAT program -- and the University of Illinois Survey Research Laboratory (SRL), worked on the project, Reducing E-waste through Purchasing Decisions, to identify opportunities and barriers for purchasing agents to include end-of-life decisions in the purchasing process and for asset managers to practice responsible recycling. Delta used a survey process, company interviews, and live and videotaped presentations with private companies to identify barriers and test strategies that can be used by private company purchasing agents and asset managers to facilitate recycling of electronic equipment. Delta concluded that by far the two most prevalent and widespread barriers to using best management practices for purchasing and recycling of electronics were (1) a lack of awareness around electronics purchasing and recycling certifications and registries, and (2) persistent negative perceptions around electronic certifications and registries. Delta beta-tested on company representatives the effectiveness of two delivery methods designed to raise awareness and remove negative perceptions: a live educational presentation and a videotaped webinar. Results from the taped webinar were inconclusive. However, responses from the live presentation suggested that the presentation was successful at raising awareness and dispelling negative perceptions about electronics registrations and certifications to encourage their use. While it is hoped and anticipated that removal of these barriers led to increased recycling of electronics in participating companies, verification was beyond the scope of this study.
Illinois Sustainable Technology Center via IDEALS
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