Sprint Unveils Zero E-Waste Goal

by | May 27, 2011

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Sprint Nextel plans to collect 100 percent of its own e-waste for reuse and recycling by 2017, as one of four goals in the company’s new Electronics Stewardship Policy.

The policy (pdf), released yesterday, comprises four goals for handling e-waste from product design to end of life. The other three are:

  • At least 70 percent of Sprint-branded devices should meet the company’s scorecard criteria for environmental design by 2017.
  • 100 percent of Sprint’s recycling vendors and remanufacturing partners must meet certification requirements by 2012 and 2013, respectively.
  • Sprint intends to collect nine phones for reuse or recycling for every 10 it sells annually by 2017.

Sprint says is the only wireless carrier to outline specific commitments to address the full lifecycle of electronics it buys and sells. The company developed the policy with input from BSR, Basel Action Network and ABI Research.

The policy’s design principles include excluding environmentally sensitive materials and designing devices with the end of their lifecycle in mind, to make it easier to reclaim parts for reuse and separate materials for recycling. The company also says it will take steps to maximize the useful life of equipment.

Its manufacturer scorecard assess whether devices are RoHS compliant, meet the EC Code of Conduct for Energy Efficiency for External Power Supplies, include a micro USB power charger, contain at least 60 percent recyclable material, have an in-box recycling solution and come in a standard box size. Sprint says it will add to these criteria over time, and will set interim design goals by the end of 2011.

The company says it will ask vendors to meet third party-verified standards for responsible recycling to ensure that e-waste is handled appropriately and worker safety is protected.

In 2010 Sprint achieved a 36 percent collection rate for used phones, and its annual average increase in collections has been 14 percent over the past five years. Since 2001, Sprint says its wireless reuse and recycling take-back programs have kept more than 24 million mobile phones out of landfills.

Last year the company re-used more than 1.1 million pounds of e-waste.

In March, Trucost’s report on Sprint’s scope 3 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions said the company should consider setting carbon reduction targets for suppliers, and possibly retender contracts with the worst performers.

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