Institute a product labeling program for appliances and electronics describing material contents, their sources and its recyleability.
Similar to the ingredients list or nutritional label found on food products, the institution of a product label for electronics and appliances would allow consumers to evaluate their purchases based on their contents. Consumers would be able to select products based on their component materials and differentiate between products that utilize hazardous materials or scarce resources. Additionally, by labeling the source of the materials, consumers would be able to link their purchases to the area of environmental impact.
Going one step further, the label would also include a simplistic icon noting the recycleablity of the product. Products could be labeled Low, Medium or High depending on the level of difficulty, amount of energy required, and the environmental hazards associated with recycling the product.
By instituting a labeling program, consumers would have greater awareness of the environmental impacts of their purchases. This would also increase pressure on manufactures to acknowledge and trace the global impact of their products. Similar to a mandatory take-back program for appliace and electronics manufactures, this woul also encourage companies to incorporate end-of-life recycling aspects into the design of their products.
Category of the action
What actions do you propose?
One of the first steps will involve the design of the label. There will be two components for this label: a small logo to be placed on the front of the packaging and an label for the back of the product which highlights the material contents, sources and recyclability.
Additional grant funding may be sought at this time. Following the successful formation of the label, an advertising campaign including social media aspects will begin increasing greater awareness and understanding of the label and partnerships with socially responsible electronics and appliances manufacturers will be pursued.
A secondary entity, will need to be established to verify information placed on the label and conduct product research to identify material content and verify infirmation provided by the manufacturers. Participating manufacturers would be required to answer questions regarding the material content of their products and submit product samples for review and verification.
Once materials have been verified, sources confirmed and recyclability investigated, the product will be ready to recieve a label.
Who will take these actions?
Working with a partner entity, I will head the design, establishment and introduction of the label.
Where will these actions be taken?
Initially the program could be instituted nationwide within the United States. With successful implementation domestically, the program could expand internationally.
How much will emissions be reduced or sequestered vs. business as usual levels?
What are other key benefits?
Consumer Benefits: Consumers would be empowered with the ability to make environmentally sound purchases based on product content, source, and recycleability. Through consumer purchasing power, products with lower environmental impacts could be created.
Manufacturer Benefits: Companies would be able to utilize the product label to display the evironmental impact of their product. Appliances and electronics with low environmental impacts would be valued by the consumer and have an edge over other products.
External Benefits: The recycling of electronics is often dangerous and performed in unsafe and unregulated conditions. The lack of regulation and exposure leads to environmental degredation of the surrounding area as well as inumerable health impacts. By establishing a labeling program and the subsequent incorporation of recycling into product design, the lower impact on communities put at risk through the dangerous recycling of electronics and appliances would be lessened.
What are the proposal’s costs?
It is difficult to determine costs at this time. The costs associated with the establishment and implementation of the label will depend on the extent of adoption, the parterning organization, and eventually federal support.
A related proposal would be a life-cycle-analysis label for electronics and appliances. This label would denote the environmental impact of a product over its entire lifespan from creation to disposal or recycling.