Maryland Green Purchasing
Electronics and Other Equipment
The Green Purchasing Committee has issued specifications to guide electronic and equipment purchases. These are intended to encourage the responsible use of technology to benefit users and reduce the environmental impact.
The Maryland Green Purchasing Committee:
Utility Rebate Programs: Energy Efficient Products
Requires that electronics be processed by certified e-Stewards recycler or a R2-certified recycler. To learn more about the informal recycling sector, please watch the Basel Action Network’s (founder of the e-Stewards program) short documentary "Exporting Harm: The High-Tech Trashing of Asia."
Requires electronic and IT products to be EPEAT Gold or Silver certified. EPEAT (Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool) sets standards for the full product lifecycle, e.g,. energy efficiency, reduction of toxic/hazardous materials, end-of-life management. The reduced electricity use by EPEAT-registered products makes their life-cycle cost significantly less than for non-registered products.
Requires all other energy-using products to be certified by ENERGY STAR or be in the top 25% in energy efficiency for products where labels are not available.
Suggests the use of rental and leasing models to incentivize vendors to maximize product reuse and recycling.
Energy efficiency provides significant cost savings over a product’s lifecycle. Those cost savings can grow further with the help of utility rebate programs for energy efficient products.
Examples of local rebate programs include:
- Baltimore Gas & Electric
- Potomac Edison
The manufacture of computers, monitors, imaging equipment, etc., creates a significant strain on natural resources, especially mining the material inputs.
Mining the minerals (partial list of the ore minerals found in the average smartphone can be found here
) can also pose a threat to human health and safety.
- The World Economic Forum’s 2019 report referenced below determined that ⅔ of the world’s cobalt (used in lithium-ion batteries) is found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). 10% of DRC’s cobalt is sourced from informal/artisan mining absent safety and labor regulations.
E-Waste and Recycling:
- The amount of global e-waste produced annually amounts to approximately 50 million metric tons and is valued at over $62.5 million. If all the waste was lined up side by side, it would occupy all of Manhattan.
- Around 7% of the global gold supply can be found in the world’s e-waste.
- Less than 20% of e-waste is formally recycled, while 80% is sent to the landfill or informally recycled.
More information on electronics manufacturing as well as e-waste and recycling can be found here (World Economic Forum, PACE, and UN Environment 2019 Report).
When e-waste is improperly managed, there can be repercussions for local ecosystems and the health of developing countries that might be on the receiving end of the e-waste.