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Johnson Says GSA will be a Model for Consumers Everywhere by Supporting the Development of Sustainable Electronics and Sensible Recycling Solutions.

Remarks by
Martha Johnson
Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Interagency Electronic Stewardship Event
Austin, Texas
July 20, 2011

Thank you Nancy [Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality] for that introduction. I’m delighted to join Chair Sutley and Administrator [Lisa] Jackson [Environmental Protection Agency] and take part in this important event.

The federal government is the nation’s largest single consumer of electronics, purchasing about $85 billion of information technology annually, of which nearly $14 billion is for equipment. By some estimates, the federal government disposes of 10,000 computers – every week.

Our current governmentwide tracking system to account for how these and other electronics are disposed of does not gather the data we need to determine the source or final destination of much of this waste. Many electronic products end up in schools or libraries, but others no doubt finish their useful lives in landfills.   

Today’s announcement and policy recommendations will change that. They will ensure that the nation’s largest consumer of electronics will become the nation’s most responsible user of electronics.

The U.S. General Services Administration is uniquely positioned to help the government lead by example. In our dual role as the government’s premier procurement agency and property disposal expert, GSA will lead the government by purchasing more strategically and recycling more responsibly.  

As the government’s centralized procurement arm, GSA helped the government purchase more than $3 billion in electronics last year. Now, GSA will leverage its market strength to seek out and support companies that meet green electronics standards and design products for their first day as well as their last – and every day in between. And, we will use our buying power to encourage manufacturers to expand product reclamation and recycling programs.

As the government’s centralized disposal arm, last year GSA processed $2 billion in used federal electronics. Now, GSA will ensure that all electronics purchased by the federal government are reused, then recycled by a certified recycler, whether they’re disposed of directly by a federal agency, collected through a manufacturer take-back agreement, or reused by a school or private consumer.  

In addition to sending strong signals to the IT market, these steps will boost the domestic recycling industry by requiring that billions of dollars of electronic equipment end their useful lives in safe, reliable recycling centers rather than landfills.

Government can and must lead by example. Going forward, GSA and the federal government will be a model for consumers everywhere by supporting the development of sustainable electronics and sensible recycling solutions.  

In so doing, we will secure the U.S. government’s leadership position as a smart and strategic consumer, and will support the clean, high-tech economy of our future.

Click here to read the Interagency Electronic Stewardship Event announcement

Editorial note: Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, introduced Johnson, and Sutley and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson participated in the event.