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Addressing Electronic Waste

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Sprint recognizes the key role it plays in offering environmentally sustainable electronic products and collecting retired products from customers for reuse and recycling. As a consumer of electronic products itself, Sprint also recognizes the importance of procuring eco–friendly equipment for its own operations and responsibly handling end–of–life disposition of that equipment.

To clearly state Sprint’s pledge to responsibly address electronic waste (e–waste), we have published an Electronics Stewardship Policy. A first for the telecommunications industry, this policy outlines how Sprint is focusing on the full lifecycle of the electronics we buy and sell. Additional details on the policy, including a list of our commitments and goals and why each was established, can be found below.

Sprint Policy Commitments:

  1. Design and procure electronics that are more environmentally sustainable - Removing hazardous materials from the start helps to alleviate the most critical issue for electronics at the tail end of their lifecycle. Also, designing devices with the end of their lifecycle in mind makes it easier to reclaim parts for reuse and separate materials for recycling.
  2. Maximize useful life of equipment - Lowering the equipment turnover rate results in less e-waste.
  3. Boost collection of equipment - Increasing Sprint's intake of devices for reuse and recycling helps to address low recycling rates in the U.S.
  4. Maximize reuse of electronics through redeployment and remarketing - Focusing first on reuse conserves the resources and energy used to produce additional devices and reduces associated greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Responsibly recycle e-scrap - Sending zero electronic scrap (e-scrap) to landfills and waste incinerators helps to prevent hazardous materials from potentially entering ground water or air. Maximizing material recovery decreases demand for virgin material and the ecological impact of its extraction and processing. Also, recycling in developed countries helps to ensure it is conducted in a healthy, environmentally sound manner under meaningful regulatory oversight.
  6. Use environmentally and socially responsible vendors for recycling and remanufacturing - Asking vendors to meet recognized standards for responsible recycling that are audited by an independent third party helps to verify that e-waste is being handled and processed appropriately, and the health, safety and rights of workers are being respected.

Sprint Policy Goals:

At least 70% of Sprint-branded devices launched annually will meet Sprint's environmental scorecard criteria by 2017 - Our manufacturer scorecard currently evaluates whether devices launched: 1) are RoHS compliant, 2) meet the EC Code of Conduct for Energy Efficiency for External Power Supplies, 3) use a micro USB power charger, 4) contain at least 75 percent recyclable material, 5) have an in-box recycling solution, and 6) come in a standard box size. Over time Sprint will add to and raise the bar for these criteria. Sprint also will set interim goals for device compliance by end of 2011.

Collecting nine phones for reuse or recycling for every 10 we sell annually by 2017 (a 90% collection rate) - In 2010, Sprint achieved a 36 percent collection rate. Our average annual increase in collections over the last five years is 14 percent. Sprint has established a cross-functional working committee to generate ideas for increasing collections and a long-term roadmap for achieving the 2017 goal.

Collecting 100% of Sprint's annual e-waste for reuse and recycling by 2017 - In 2010, Sprint collected more than 1.1 million pounds of its own e-waste for reuse. In addition, Sprint recycled 99.7 percent of the 2.6 million pounds of e-scrap it generated.

100% of Sprint's electronics recycling vendors certified by end of 2012, and 100% of Sprint's electronics remanufacturing partners certified by end of 2013 - Sprint is offering optional certification paths based on either the R2 or e-Stewards recycling standard. We are asking our vendors to implement one of these standards along with a sound environmental management system and a health and safety management system that takes into account the unique risks associated with handling and processing electronics.

EPA Commitment:

On July 20, 2011, Sprint took its commitment to safely manage used electronics a step further. Sprint CEO Dan Hesse joined heads of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the White House Council for Environmental Quality and the General Services Administration in Austin, Tex., for the unveiling of the federal government's new "National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship". At the event EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson commended Sprint, Dell and Sony for their leadership as each signed a statement on shared principles and a voluntary commitment to promote the use of certified recyclers, provide downstream assurance, and increase the transparency of its recycling operations.

This key initial support led to development of a national program a year later. On Sept. 20, 2012, the EPA launched the Sustainable Materials Management Electronics Challenge, and with it Sprint became the first wireless carrier to participate. This new program challenges major manufacturers and retailers of electronics to voluntarily commit to sending 100 percent of used electronics collected for reuse and recycling to third-party certified recyclers, increase the total amount of used electronics collected for reuse and recycling, and publically post information and data on electronics recovery and disposal. Public reporting includes the total amount collected annually with breakouts by:

  • Consumers vs. Businesses & Institutions
  • Voluntary vs. Non-voluntary
  • Individual U.S. states and territories
  • Equipment; cell phones and other mobile devices; and accessories
  • Percent sent to brokers, remanufacturers and recyclers that have at least one of the following certifications: R2, R2/RIOS or e-Stewards

Click here to view Sprint's 2012 Gold-level Report.

Helping Employees Recycle:

In addition to collecting products and its own electronic assets for reuse and recycling, Sprint is helping many of its employees to responsibly recycle their e-waste. In 2011, employees at Sprint's Overland Park, Kan., headquarters and the surrounding area have been given the opportunity to recycle their personal used electronics for free. E-waste recycling events are held four times a year where employees can bring old electronics ranging from hard drives and PC monitors to televisions and digital cameras. The events, which have been held since 2009, have grown in frequency and collections. In 2010, Sprint helped employees collect nearly 100 pallets, approximately 60,000 pounds, of electronic waste. We look forward to collecting even more this year and beyond.