GSA Urban Mining Project

EPA and GSA visit an “urban mine” to highlight growing Colorado jobs sector

Tour of Electronic Recyclers International facility in Denver underscores federal strategy for electronics stewardship

October 21, 2011


EPA: Richard Mylott, 303.312.6654

GSA: Sally Mayberry, 303.941.7637

ERI: Matt McLaughlin, 303.522.9672

Read the Transcript

This may just look like a warehouse full of old electronics, but the General Services Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and Electronics Recycling Incorporated see something more, "urban mining". ERI CEO John Shegerian oversees this urban mining process, which is the recovery of precious and rare earth metals and other valuable materials from used electronics such as computers, monitors, televisions and cell phones. GSA and the EPA are partnering with electronics recycling companies, like ERI, in this "urban mining effort" to encourage e-stewardship and to help stimulate the local economy. Old electronics are brought to the E-waste facility, torn apart, processed and then reassembled into a new item. Just as John with ERI shows us with his iPad2. This aluminum eventually goes through our facility, after it gets recycled, and it goes to ALCOA, our partner, and it ends up on the back of this iPad2. And that's what we call, urban mining.. GSA is a big volume buyer of electronics, spending $85 billion on electronics annually, $14 billion of that in IT equipment alone. This makes GSA's cradle to grave approach, to buy green and recycle green, imperative. Sue Damour, the GSA Rocky Mountain Regional Administrator, explains that e-waste recycling is key. to helping GSA work toward it's goal of becoming a Zero Environmental Footprint agency. The Federal Government in our mind, leads by example and this is the perfect way to do it. And we want to support job growth, not only here in Colorado, but in the other locations that ERI has in the high tech economy as we move into the future. Jim Martin from the EPA also shares enthusiasm about urban mining and the opportunity to create green jobs that will have a positive economic impact. This graph shows you another great reason for doing this, we can create jobs, we can create good jobs for all kinds of people. Long-term permanent jobs, recycling, reusing and replacing our electronics. A beacon of hope in a down economy. Colorado has been a mining state for more than 150 years, and I think, Jim martin, with EPA will agree with me this is the best mining we have ever done.

(Denver, Colo.—October 21, 2011) Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the State of Colorado toured a Denver electronics recycler today as part of the Obama Administration’s strategy to promote job creation and the responsible recycling of electronics products. The visit to the Electronic Recyclers International facility featured a behind-the-scenes look at the recovery of precious and rare earth metals and other valuable materials from used electronics such as computers, monitors, televisions and cell phones.

The Obama Administration’s “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” is a comprehensive approach to support the responsible design, purchasing, management and recycling of electronics products. Led by EPA and GSA, and with the support of states, the actions taken under this strategy will strengthen the market for electronics recycling and provide a boost to a growing segment of the U.S. and Colorado’s economy.

“The emerging electronics recycling industry is beginning to tap vast environmental and economic potential,” said Jim Martin, Regional Administrator of EPA’s Denver office. “Our partnership with industry means more of our nation’s electronics products will be handled profitably and responsibly, and it means that growing companies like ERI will continue to bring green jobs to Colorado.”

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

”In the future, GSA will ensure that all electronics purchased by the federal government are reused and then recycled by a certified recycler,” said Susan Damour, GSA Regional Administrator.

As the first company in the world to achieve dual certification under both the E-Stewards and R2 (Responsible Recycling) certification programs, ERI operates its Denver facility in accordance with the most stringent standards in the electronics recycling industry. The company, based in California, employs 475 people nationwide, including 25 in Colorado. The company has doubled in size over the past year and anticipates continued growth.

“It is a tremendous honor to have been selected as the site for this event,” said John S. Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of ERI. “It’s exciting to see the federal government embark on this strategy to promote the use of certified electronics recyclers. This will help strengthen our industry here in the U.S., allowing us to create jobs while recovering valuable resources and protecting the environment. ERI has made it a priority to stay in touch with our green DNA, maintain a sustainable business model, and provide electronics recycling services in Colorado and across the country.”

Every year, Americans generate almost 2.5 million tons of used electronics, which are made from valuable resources such as precious metals and rare earth materials, as well as plastic and glass.

During the event, Shegerian discussed the tremendous promise of “urban mining,” a term he coined to describe the recovery of precious metals and other valuable materials from electronics products as opposed to extracting minerals and other raw materials from the ground. Reusing and recycling discarded electronics helps the environment by saving energy and keeping hazardous materials out of landfills.

The National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship includes four overarching goals.

  • Build incentives for the design of Greener Electronics
  • Increase the safe management and handling of used electronics
  • Reduce harm from US Exports of E-Waste and improve the safe handling of used electronics in developing countries
  • Ensure that the Federal Government leads by example

A key component of the strategy includes the use of certified recyclers and increasing the safe and effective management and handling of used electronics. There are two existing domestic third-party certification recycling entities, R2 and E-Stewards. Certified recyclers are regularly audited to ensure that electronics are recycled in a manner that is safe for human health and the environment.

More information on the EPA, the national strategy and industry collaboration:

More information on GSA’s electronic stewardship goals and promoting federal agencies’ purchasing Environmentally Preferable Products: eWaste and Electronic Stewardship FAQ

As the largest recycler of electronic waste in the US, Fresno-headquartered Electronic Recyclers International is licensed to de-manufacture and recycle televisions, computer monitors, computers and other types of electronic equipment. ERI processes more than 120 million pounds of electronic waste annually at locations in California, Washington, Colorado, Indiana, Massachusetts, Texas and North Carolina. For more information visit:

Last Reviewed: 2019-02-26