Upcoming EPA Webinar on Safe Packaging and Transport of Lithium Batteries

On Thursday, January 23, 2020, the US EPA Sustainable Materials Management (SMM) Web Academy will present Safe Packaging and Transportation of Lithium Batteries for Recycling: What You Need to Know. The speaker will be Jordan Rivera of the US Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

From the SMM web pages:

Lithium batteries are key to our modern connected world, from our cellphones and computers to our cars (and not just electric cars) and have an increasing role in storing electricity for the electric grid. But, used lithium batteries aren’t exactly like the used alkaline or lead acid batteries that many are used to working with. Because of the battery’s level of charge and the materials that are inside of it, special preparation is needed when shipping these batteries to a refurbisher or recycler. On this webinar participants will learn how to prevent, reduce or eliminate risks of fire or explosions from the improper packaging, marking, labeling, or recycling of lithium batteries.

This SMM webinar will be hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and led by a subject matter expert from the Hazardous Materials Safety Assistance Team under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The webinar will focus on the safe transportation of lithium batteries for recycling and the applicable regulations that must be followed by battery shippers. It is designed for individuals in the battery recycling industry who need a working knowledge of the regulations, or who provide training to their employees on the applicable regulations. They will include an overview on the latest regulatory requirements on proper lithium battery packaging, marking, and labeling and as well as a basic understanding of how to apply the Hazardous Materials Regulations.”

Register for this webinar at https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/13389156744558092. See https://www.epa.gov/smm/sustainable-materials-management-smm-web-academy-webinar-safe-packaging-and-transportation for additional information. Note the SMM Web Academy typically posts slides and a webinar recording after the presentation has occurred.

Upcoming Webinar on CRT Recycling, Management Issues

US EPA Region 3, the Northeast Recycling Council (NERC), and the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse (ERCC) are sponsoring a webinar on Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 9:00  to 11:00 AM CDT, entitled ” CRTs: What Can Be Done?” 

CRTs, or cathode ray tubes, are found in older TVs and computer monitors. CRTs contain leaded glass, making discarded CRTs a hazardous waste (lead is a neurotoxin). In the past, the leaded glass could be reused in the production of new CRT monitors, but that technology has been replaced by flat screens, and thus, there is no longer a demand for the problematic components of these monitors. Processing them has become costly rather than profitable for recyclers, and  new uses for the leaded glass and new means of recycling have been considered and debated in recent years.

This webinar will focus on recycling possibilities, the issues companies face, and the potential for various technologies to address the CRT problem. Four knowledgeable panelists will share their expertise and opinions, followed by a short question and answer session.

Presenters include:

  • JJ Santos, Camacho Recycling, Spain
  • Rich Hipp, Kuusakoski, USA
  • Tom Bolon, Novotec, Ohio
  • Simon Greer, NuLife Glass, New York

See https://epawebconferencing-events.acms.com/content/connect/c1/7/en/events/event/shared/default_template/speaker_info.html?sco-id=100343474 for additional information on the presenters. Registration is available at https://epawebconferencing-events.acms.com/content/connect/c1/7/en/events/event/shared/default_template/event_registration.html?sco-id=100343474.

Game Consoles & Energy Efficiency–Level Failed?

According to a new issue brief from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the latest-generation game consoles will use enough electricity to cost US consumers $1 billion annually, despite incorporation of some energy-saving design features, such as better power scaling and transitioning automatically to a lower-power state after an extended period of user inactivity. A significant portion of that cost (around $400 million) will be spent when the consoles are in “standby” or sleep mode. The amount of electricity used by these consoles is equivalent to the amount used in all household within the city of Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the US.

With funding from the US EPA, NRDC followed up on its 2008 report on the energy use of video game consoles, performing laboratory tests on the most popular consoles, including the Nintendo Wii U, Sony PlayStation 4, and Microsoft Xbox One. Follow this link to access the updated issue paper, available on the NRDC website. Results show the Sony PS4 and Microsoft Xbox One use two to three times more annual energy than the most recent models of their predecessors. The Wii U consumes less energy than its predecessor (the Wii) while providing higher definition graphics and processing capabilities, thanks largely to is low power use in connected standby mode.

Other key findings include:

  • The new consoles consume more energy each year playing video or in standby mode than playing games.
  • While the new versions are more powerful, the two- to three-fold increase in energy use is due to higher power demand in standby and on modes and, in the case of the Xbox One, more time switched on due to its TV viewing mode. In this mode, the console is used in addition to the current set-top box to access cable or satellite TV, adding 72 watts to TV viewing.
  • The Xbox One draws less power than the PS4 in on mode. However, the Xbox One consumes a lot more energy when not in use (connected standby mode).
  • Nearly half of the Xbox One’s annual energy is consumed in connected standby, when the console continuously draws more than 15 watts while waiting for the user to say “Xbox on,” even in the middle of the night or during the workday when no one is home.
  • The PS4 and Xbox One are very inefficient when playing movies, using 30 to 45 times more power to stream a movie than a dedicated Apple TV or Google Chromecast.

NRDC recommends improvements that console manufacturers could make to reduce the energy consumption of game consoles, and at the end of the aforementioned issue brief, they provide tips for gamers to make changes in their new console settings to reduce energy consumption in the meantime.

Author Pierre Delforge notes in his blog “Testing was performed on launch units with system updates up to mid-April 2014. The effects of any system updates and hardware improvements released after that date are not reflected in the report. We just heard from Sony that new PS4s sold with the 1.70 software version released on April 30, 2014, reduce the default auto-power down time from two hours to one, and include a TV screen-dimming feature. We applaud Sony for these energy-saving improvements and encourage them to implement our other recommendations as soon as possible.”

See the ENERGY STAR Game Console Version 1.0 Recognition Program information at http://www.energystar.gov/products/specs/node/146. While this program is in effect, there do not seem to be any certified game consoles currently listed on the ENERGY STAR web site (http://www.energystar.gov/certified-products/certified-products?c=products.pr_find_es_products).

See also ENERGY STAR’s information on ‘Standby Power and Energy Vampires,” as well as the “How Vampire Power Works” over on the How Stuff Works website.

 

Sustainable Electronics Funding Opportunity: EPA P3 Program, Deadline 12/17/13

P3 Program Logo“P3” is the US Environmental Protection Agency’s “People, Prosperity, and Planet Student Design Competition for Sustainability.” As stated on the program website, this is “a unique college competition for designing solutions for a sustainable future. P3 offers students quality hands-on experience that brings their classroom learning to life. The competition has two phases. For the first phase of the competition, teams are awarded a $15,000 grant to develop their idea. They bring the design in April to the National Sustainable Design Expo in Washington, DC to compete for the P3 Award and a grant of $90,000 to take their design to real world application.” Teams are meant to be interdisciplinary and composed of undergraduates and/or graduates, and the main goals of the program are to engage future scientists and members of industry in innovation for sustainability, while fostering the demonstration and development of sustainable technologies.

The current solicitation closes December 17, 2013. EPA anticipates funding approximately 40 grants for Phase I under this RFA. The projected EPA award amount for each Phase I grant is up to $15,000 for its one year duration. The current Request for Applications is available here, and guidance on how to apply is available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3/apply/index.html. Application materials and a list of EPA contacts are available at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2014/2014_p3.html#Materials.

The program has been around for several years (see the archive of past P3 projects on the program website), but few P3 projects have focused specifically on sustainable electronics issues. Some notable examples include a New Jersey Institute of Technology proposal for development of a “National Electronics Product Reuse and Recycling System,” and the recent Purdue University project related to “Recycling of Liquid Crystal Displays for Maximum Resource Recovery.” (Dr. Fu Zhao recently visited the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC) to present a seminar/webinar on the LCD monitor recycling project; the archived presentation, slides and abstract are available in the ISTC Sustainability Seminars archive.) Other projects have focused on creating more energy efficient electronic devices, such as the East Central University project on “Making a Solid State Organic Photovoltaic Cell More Efficient and Economically Viable.” Still others are tangentially relevant to a more sustainable system for electronics because they focus on issues like consumer awareness (e.g. the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor “AWARE” concept for informing purchasing decisions) or using electronics to help solve real world sustainability problems (e.g. concepts for LED lighting applications in developing countries, like those proposed by student teams from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign or the Rochester Institute of Technology).

As Dr. Zhao pointed out in his presentation on the Purdue LCD monitor recycling project, there is great potential for more P3 teams to focus on sustainable electronics issues. In fact, if you read the current P3 Request for Applications closely, a list of research areas is listed and applications are expected to address one or more of these areas. See Part E under Section I: Funding Opportunity Description at http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2014/2014_p3.html#Synopsis. One of these areas is “Materials and Chemicals” and examples of areas of interest listed within this overall research area include “Projects that may reduce electronics waste or promote substitution and/or recovery of rare earth rare earth elements,” “Less toxic flame retardants,” and in general the redesign of products to use less resources in production and consumption, use more environmentally benign materials, etc. So there is a current desire from the EPA to see applications focusing on more sustainable electronic product design, manufacture, consumption, and end-of-life management. Faculty researchers and students interested in these issues should consider applying for the current P3 Awards cycle, or planning to submit applications in future cycles.

If you apply and receive an award, tell us about your project in the “Comments” section of this post. SEI would love to follow your progress.

Death of Advanced Recycling Fee?

Note: This post was written by SEI staff, Aida Sefic Williams.

In the last few weeks, the issue of California’s e-waste recycling has become an increasingly prominent issue.  When speaking of US electronic waste rules, the general statement was “California is the only one with an advanced recycling fee (ARF)”, but their process seemed to work. After all, California’s e-waste laws have been in place much longer than e-waste legislation of other states. Unfortunately, it seems that California’s model of e-waste collection has unfortunately failed.

It seems that in 2002, when e-waste legislation was first considered and drafted, California also considered manufacturer responsibility legislation (Modesto Bee), which is currently used by 21 states. The voices of the tech industry, however, prevailed and California passed an e-waste recycling law requiring an advanced recycling fee (ARF). Given this legislation, when a customer purchases a new monitor or television, they are charged a fee (between $8 and $25), which should in turn be used to recycle the purchased equipment. The goal of the program was to provide a way for consumers to dispose of their electronics responsibly while providing funds for a green industry (Sacramento Bee). While the state had good intentions, no one could foresee the fraudulent activities that would take place.

Due to the amount of state-funding, hundreds of new electronics recyclers sprung up throughout the state (Merced Sun-Star). State officials passing the ARF legislation only counted on the environmental spirits in the state, but they did not foresee the greed that would take over the program. This has led to organizations importing electronics from Arizona and other neighboring states, in order to recycle the electronics within California and receive money for recycling such electronics products. To date, the state of California has paid approximately $320 million for electronics recycling, since the law’s passing in 2005 (Desert Dispatch). The state additionally recognizes that approximately $30 million have been used to recycle electronics which came in from other states, but it has rejected approximately $23 million of fraudulent claims. The Sacramento Bee offers a chart detailing California’s recyclers with the most claim denials.

Understandably, many are angered by the news and knowing their money is used to recycle e-waste  brought in from illegally other states. Environmentalists, however, have another problem with California’s law and its mistreatment – the disposal of usable monitors. California’s model makes it more enticing for people to recycle their “old” but usable monitors, instead of using them until they physically break or donating them to a charitable organization. ScrippsNews tackles this issue in their article “Mounds of usable computer monitors in Calif. dumps“.

So how can California handle this apparent fraud and misuse of their laws and funds? Will they change their laws to reflect other US states? If so, how long will this process take? What can be done in the meantime? These questions need answers – and soon! The failing system needs to go to the root of the problem, update legislation to meet these new challenges, and with proper care and maintenance, the system will be working better, more effectively, and should last for a very long time.

Three new state e-waste laws!

Note: This post was written by SEI staff, Aida Sefic Williams.

In the past two months, three new states have passed state-wide legislation requiring increased producer responsibility for the collection and proper disposal of electronic waste. Vermont was the first state to pass a new e-waste law in 2010. Shortly, South Carolina and New York State followed suit! This is fantastic news, as electronic waste is an increasing problem. At the moment, there are still seven other states which have proposed e-waste laws which will hopefully be passed in the next 6 to 12 months.

In my opinion, increased e-waste laws only indicate an increased interest in solving the current e-waste problem. Two of the states not only require e-waste collection, but they also impose a disposal ban on electronic equipment!

In Vermont, Act 079/S77 was passed in April of 2010 and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2011. Like all other extended producer responsibility (EPR) laws, the state requires electronics manufacturers, recyclers, retailers, and refurbishers of electronics to register with the state. If an organization is not registered, they will be unable to continue their business within the state of Vermont. The bill requires the collection and proper disposal of desktops, laptops, CRTs,  TVs, monitors, computer peripherals (keyboard, mice, etc.), and printers.

South Carolina’s HB 4093 was passed on May 19, 2010, and it takes affect on Jul. 1, 2011. Similar to the Vermont law, South Carolina also requires the state registration of electronic manufacturers, retailers, collectors, refurbishers, and recyclers. South Carolina requires the collection and disposal of desktops, laptops, CRTs, televisions and monitors. Unlike Vermont, South Carolina does not require the collection and disposal of computer peripherals and printers. Along with requiring the collection of electronics, South Carolina also included a disposal ban in the HB 4093 bill. The disposal ban forbids the disposal of computers, monitors, CTTs, televisions, and printers in municipal waste locations, starting on Jul 1, 2011.

Most recently, New York state has passed a comprehensive e-waste bill, which requires the registration of electronic manufacturers, collectors, recyclers, refurbishers, and retailers.The bill A 11308/S 7988, Title 27 requires proper disposal as well as enforces a disposal ban on the following electronics: televisions, monitors, desktops, laptops, computer peripherals, printers, and fax machines.

A detailed chart showing the differences between the various e-waste laws is available online on the SEI website. The chart may also be downloaded as a PDF.

SEI Symposium

Note: This post was written by SEI staff member, Amy Cade.

The 2010 Electronics and Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment Symposium held two weeks ago was a great success! Over 20 impressive speakers in the fields of academia, manufacturing, retail, government, and recycling presented their take on electronics and sustainability. We had an impressive turnout, lively conversation, and overall, a great time had by all.

Here are some highlights from the event: Continue reading “SEI Symposium”

Electronics and Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment

Note: This post was written by SEI staff, Aida Sefic Williams.

The Sustainable Electronics Initiative (SEI), part of the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center and the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), is hosting their first electronics and sustainability symposium. The event will be he held on February 23 and 24, 2010 at the I-Hotel and Conference Center.

Continue reading “Electronics and Sustainability: Design for Energy and the Environment”

Diigo Digest: All You Need to Know About Finding Electronics Recyclers

Note: This post was written by SEI staff member, Amy Cade.

This week’s topic for discussion is about the health impacts of electronic components/waste. I have decided to approach this topic in a roundabout way. Stay tuned for a comprehensive summary of articles that discuss the affects of lead and mercury when they are exposed through open burnings of electronic parts. But this week I would like to highlight websites that offer information to consumers about how to donate or responsibly recycle old electronics from the beginning.

imagesProbably one of the most comprehensive websites about finding recyclers is the EPA’s page entitled, “Where can I Donate or Recycle My Old Computer and Other Electronic Products?” This provides an extensive list of recyclers and recycling programs by manufacturers.

The “e-Steward” program is a voluntary certification program that recyclers can apply for. If you donate your computer to a recycler that is e-Steward certified, you are guaranteed responsible recycling. One way the e-Steward program ensures this is by promising that your electronics will not be exported because exportation of waste can often result in the waste being handled or recycled in ways that are detrimental to the environment and human health.  A complete list of e-Stewards can be found on the Electronics TakeBack Coalition website or at http://www.e-stewards.org/local_estewards.html

PCMAG.COMAnother site offering information on where to give your old electronics is the PCMAG.com Electronics Recycling Superguide. This offers a list of manufacturer recycling programs, as well as explanations and benefits of those programs.  (Note the manufacturer list begins here; use the links on the left side of the online article to access various portions of the alphabetical manufacturer list.)

Some programs are easier to use than others. In Illinois, for example, Panasonic’s collection program offers a large number of collection centers and will take back any type of brand.

Editor of Dealnews.com, Louis Ramirez, suggests the HP and Gateway programs are two of the best manufacturing trade-in programs for consumers because they tend to offer the most money back.

The PCMAG article  also offers a list of retailers that offer take-bake programs.

Finally, PCMAG.com includes a list of web-sites that offer cash for your electronics. Gazelle, for instance, offers free shipping of your item and will pay you $115 for your electronics on average.

I have also found databases that include recyclers which are not on the websites listed above. These databases are:

www.electronicsrecycling.org and

www.reconnectpartnership.com .

(Please note that this post is intended for information purposes only and is not meant to be construed as an endorsement of any electronic recycling website or any affiliated organization.)

I would like to invite readers to submit information on any recycling/donation resource not covered in this post in the “Comments” section below.

Design for the Environment (DfE): Electronics Partnership Projects

According to the U.S. EPA web site, “The Design for the Environment (DfE) Program works in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders to reduce risk to people and the environment by preventing pollution. DfE focuses on industries that combine the potential for chemical risk reduction and improvements in energy efficiency with a strong motivation to make lasting, positive changes. DfE convenes partners, including industry representatives and environmental groups, to develop goals and guide the work of the partnership. Partnership projects evaluate the human health and environmental considerations, performance, and cost of traditional and alternative technologies, materials, and processes. As incentives for participation and driving change, DfE offers unique technical tools, methodologies, and expertise.”

The DfE Program has produced several partnership projects related to electronics. Past projects include the Printed Wiring Board Partnership and the Computer Display Partnership. Current partnerships include the Lead-Free Solder Partnership, the Wire & Cable Partnership and the Flame Retardants in Printed Circuit Boards Partnership. Each project site includes general project information, project milestones, links to any publications produced and a list of the partners involved. Continue reading “Design for the Environment (DfE): Electronics Partnership Projects”