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Green Tech Rising: E-waste handling increasing but value chain partners critical


Reduce – reuse – recycle: easy enough, right?  Well, not quite.  The positive impacts of increasingly global legislation regarding the safe disposal and recycling of electronic equipment have moved consumers and businesses to adopt good reverse logistics habits.  However, the perception of the e-waste recycling chain is not always the reality.  This critical and dangerous truth was highlighted this week at the recent symposium on Counterfeit Electronic Parts and Electronic Supply Chain, organized by the Center for Advanced Life Cycle Engineering (CALCE) at The University of Maryland, College Park, MD.


Smith & Associates was in attendance to partake in the multi-day discussions and forums pertaining to safeguarding the reverse logistics value chain for e-waste; with the goals of ensuring proper ecological and safe recycling and disposal as well as the further reduction of counterfeiting due to improper e-waste handling.  Smith & Associates' supply chain strategies has a long-standing history of surpassing industry standards for the safe and secure handling of electronic components, whether for new, obsolescent or asset disposition situations (see our CycleIT asset disposition services).

It has been almost a decade since the European Union (EU) introduced the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) (see this informational site hosted by the EU).  While many have adopted these important measures, the fact remains that much of today's e-waste still ends up in situations of "backyard recycling," the illegal dumping and hazardous tear-down of electronics in the developing world (see this Yale University study).  Not only is this an unsafe human and ecological problem, it is also a major access point for the introduction of counterfeit electronics components into the supply chain.  See Smith & Associates' recent MarketWatch Quarterly (MWQ) article out last week to subscribers (free subscription available here) or mid-July at the MWQ site here.

To combat this e-waste and hazardous backyard recycling problem, the US Senate is moving forward federal legislation, to restrict the international trade in e-waste to developing nations in order to both cut off counterfeit supply and safeguard human and environmental health, as discussed by a panel at CALCE's symposium.  This bill has the support of many throughout the industry, such as the major electronics OEMs (HP, Apple, Dell and Samsung) and retailers (such as BestBuy), as well as many global electronics and components companies along the semiconductor value chain, including Smith & Associates.

It is imperative that Green Tech, and e-waste handling in particular, continue; but choosing the right value chain partner who safeguards the entire asset disposition process is essential to your business data and to protecting human, environmental and supply chain health.  This year, Smith & Associates will be running a Special Series in our MarketWatch Quarterly dedicated to issues in Green Tech.  For more on Smith's reverse logistics expertise and services, see our CycleIT site; recent articles here and here on reverse logistics; information about anti-counterfeiting here and here; and this Commentary post on the growth of aftermarket services.

Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.
Written on Friday, 01 July 2011 12:49 by Lisa Ann Cairns, Ph.D.

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