The White House has issued an updated executive order on federal sustainability practices that noticeably leaves out green electronics standard EPEAT. The standard helps promote the recovery and reuse of many types of devices.
It remains unclear exactly why the feds made the move.
Replacing a 2009 executive order “ensuring procurement preference for EPEAT registered electronic products,” the White House’s new order, issued on March 19, directs branches of the federal government toward “procurement for environmentally sustainable electronic products.” There is no mention of EPEAT in the update.
The federal government – with its many tentacles – is one of the world’s largest consumers of electronic devices. Its Interagency Task Force on Electronics Stewardship, developed in the wake of the 2009 executive order, has a stated goal of pushing the federal government to “lead by example” on electronics stewardship.
Robert Frisbee, the CEO of the Green Electronics Council, which manages EPEAT, said he didn’t have a clear answer on the government’s reason to drop the standard out of its protocol.
“It is surprising to see the EPEAT support left out of the latest executive order,” he said in a statement to E-Scrap News. “Many important players including U.S. agencies, private sector institutional purchasers and environmental advocates have been striving to maintain the government’s commitment to EPEAT. This legacy period for the [Obama] administration would seem to provide an opportunity to enhance environmental goals, and this seems contradicted by this order.”
The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality issued a statement on the development to E-Scrap News. “The executive order establishes sustainability criteria that the federal community should use to help with product selection, management and disposal, and it avoids endorsement or recommendation of any particular non-federal label,” the statement read. “The administration will continue to work with private and non-governmental sector standards bodies to ensure the federal community has adequate information to continue to promote electronic stewardship across the Federal government.”
The EPEAT standard was formed in 2005 and serves as a global rating system for a wide range of electronics, including computers and televisions.
Products registered to EPEAT are graded on various sustainability criteria, including end-of-life management, repairability and use of recycled content, and are awarded bronze, silver or gold labels based on how many criteria are met.
Frisbee said EPEAT has helped the electronics industry move forward significantly. “A program that has been so effective in moving environmental goals ahead,” he said, “without regulation, taxes or mandates … deserves the ongoing support of the administration.”
Note: This story was updated to include the statement from the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality.