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Highlights

Advancing technology has led to increasing sales of new electronic devices. With this increase comes the dilemma of managing them at the end of their useful lives. If discarded with common trash, a number of environmental impacts may result, ranging from the loss of valuable resources to the potential release of toxic substances, such as lead. If recycled, they may be exported to countries with waste management systems that are less protective of human health and the environment that those of the United States. The federal government is the world's largest purchaser of electronics, spending nearly $75 billion on electronic products and services in 2009. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has helped implement several product stewardship initiatives to encourage responsible management of electronic products in all three phases of a product's lifecycle--procurement, operation, and end-of-life disposal. In response to a request to provide information on federal procurement and management of electronic products, GAO's testimony describes (1) EPA's electronic product stewardship initiatives, (2) federal agency participation in them, and (3) opportunities for strengthening participation. GAO's testimony is based on its prior work and updated with data from EPA. In our prior report, EPA agreed that increasing federal participation in its initiatives could be encouraged. Agency officials still agree with this finding.

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