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green@work : Magazine : Newlines : May/June 2004

Actions and initiatives worth noting

Framework for Mandatory Climate Change Action

A mandatory greenhouse gas reduction program for the U.S. could be both effective and politically feasible, according to a diverse group of business, government and environmental leaders brought together by the Aspen Institute and the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

The group, which included representatives of the energy, mining and automobile industries, environmental and consumer organizations and Congressional staff, did not debate whether there should be a mandatory policy. Instead, they started with the premise that all parties want to ensure, if mandatory action is taken, that climate policies will be environmentally effective, economical and fair. “What is truly significant is that such a diverse group was able to reach consensus on several elements of what a mandatory national policy might look like,” said program co-chair Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

Two principles guided the choice of recommendations. First, the desire for broad rather than sector-specific coverage, and coverage of multiple gases, not just CO2, guided the participants. This ensured long-term environmental effectiveness and distributional equity. Second, there was consensus that phasing of actual reduction targets would be important and that a modest start would be preferable. This would send a signal that reducing greenhouse gases was national policy. Deeper cuts could occur later, as technology evolves and capital stock turns over in response to early market signals generated by the policy.

After considering several possible designs, participants reached consensus on a hybrid program that combines elements of a cap-and-trade program with tradable efficiency standards. An initially modest, but declining absolute national cap on greenhouse gas emissions would be placed on large sources such as electric utilities and manufacturers. Deeper cuts could occur later, as technology evolves and the economy responds to the policy. The group did not attempt to specify the level of the absolute cap on CO2 emissions, or the date it should go into effect. A similar cap would apply to emissions from transportation fuel suppliers, coupled with tradable CO2-per-mile automobile standards. The group also recommended tradable efficiency standards for appliances and other manufactured products.

Participants also stressed the importance of a policy that encourages development and diffusion of new technologies, both to reduce emissions and to provide new market opportunities for U.S. business.

The report, Climate Policy Framework: Balancing Policy and Politics, can be found at or

EPA Teams with Dell

The U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency (EPA) will work with Dell to recycle or redeploy its computer systems at the end of their lifecycles. The EPA has signed a blanket purchase agreement with Dell under which the agency can purchase or lease up to 10,000 desktops, notebooks and servers over the next three years. As the EPA replaces its old systems, Dell will provide the agency with an easy-to-use, affordable asset recovery service to either recycle or redeploy those systems, help protect the confidential data on them and dispose of the hardware in a manner designed to safeguard the environment.

The agency is leasing the systems for its consolidation through Dell’s Government Leasing and Finance group, an organization within Dell that serves the specific finance needs of government customers. Leasing allows the EPA to achieve budget flexibility as they implement their technology rotation and asset disposal plan.

Vanguard Honored by Healthcare Group

Vanguard Medical Concepts, Inc., Lakeland, FL, received the 2004 Champion for Change Award from Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (H2E). The award annually recognizes organizations that are implementing programs to shrink the environmental footprint of the healthcare industry by reducing waste, preventing pollution and eliminating mercury. H2E is a joint program of the American Hospital Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, Health Care Without Harm and the American Nurses Association. Its goals include reducing medical waste 30 percent by 2005, with a 50 percent reduction by 2010.

Vanguard received the award for its efforts in 2003 to advance the initiatives of H2E among its hospital customers and at its own facilities, including: eliminating 439 tons of medical waste destined for landfills through its reprocessing programs in place at more than 1,000 Vanguard customer hospitals nationwide; implementing a reporting system for its customers to track waste reduction and disposal cost savings from medical device reprocessing; committing to eliminate an additional 60 tons of DVT plastic annually; actively promoting the H2E initiative to more than 273 hospitals; and eliminating more than 16 tons of plastic medical waste by converting the company’s medical waste system from disposable containers to reusable ones.

Organic Fiber Standards Adopted

After nearly five years of work, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has adopted organic fiber processing standards covering all post-harvest processing, from storage of organic fiber (such as cotton or wool) at the gin or similar facility, to spinning, wet finishing and labeling. OTA and industry members developed the standards after reviewing and modifying existing international standards governing organic fiber while also taking into account the requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act and its regulations. The project was supported, in part, by a generous grant from the Martin-Fabert Foundation.

One of the most important differences between the OTA fiber processing standards and those in existence from other countries and organizations is the inclusion of an extremely detailed Materials List stating what products can and cannot be used. OTA is not aware of any other fiber processing standard having such a list, said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.

“ We believe the standards will not only provide the basis for environmentally sustainable processing among companies in the organic fiber industry, but will also become of great interest to the conventional textile sector as it looks for ways to reduce negative environmental effects of textile production,” DiMatteo said.

The new processing standards, entitled “The Organic Trade Association’s American Organic Standards—Fiber: Post Harvest Handling, Processing, Record Keeping & Labeling,” are available to OTA members and non-members through a licensing agreement. Visit for more information.

HP Expands Planet Partners Program

HP is expanding its Planet Partners program inkjet print cartridge return and recycling service in the United States to better serve customers and help protect the environment. Beginning in June, customers can recycle their empty HP 58 and HP 59 inkjet print cartridges by placing them in an included postage-paid return envelope and dropping it in the mail. Through this free

and easy-to-use service, customers are encouraged to take an active role in reducing the amount of waste that impacts the environment.

In 2003, more than 10 million HP LaserJet print cartridges and 1.8 million HP inkjet print cartridges were returned and recycled worldwide through the Planet Partners program, currently available in more than 30 countries in Asia, Europe, South America and North America. HP LaserJet and inkjet print cartridges returned through the Planet Partners program go to recycling operations where they are reduced into raw materials for use in new metal and plastic products.

More information about HP’s recycling programs is available at

Office Depot Sets Environmental Policy

The environmental campaign against Office Depot is over following the company’s announcement of a revised environmental policy that meets The Paper Campaign’s demands of moving the company toward environmentally preferable paper sales and away from the sale of products made from endangered forests. The Paper Campaign, a national coalition of dozens of environmental groups, has applauded Office Depot’s commitment to environmental responsibility, saying that the policy far exceeds an initial one that Office Depot committed to last April.

Under Office Depot’s new policy, the company will phase out all paper products coming from rare and vulnerable forests, forests containing exceptional biodiversity values, forests subject to unsustainable management, and forests that have been illegally logged. This phase-out will mean a movement away from sourcing its paper from three of the world’s remaining endangered forest areas, including the southern United States, the Boreal forests of Canada and the forests of British Columbia. The company also agreed to achieve an average of 30 percent post-consumer recycled content across all paper products it sells, and phase out products from industrial forest operations that convert naturally diverse forests to monoculture plantations. Finally, Office Depot committed to not sourcing its paper from areas where natural forests have been replanted using genetically modified trees

Office Depot’s full policy is available on-line at

Dealing with the Cell Phone Dilemma

Over one billion wireless handsets are currently in use worldwide, with average life spans for handsets now falling to under 18 months. In the United States alone, 100 million cell phones will be retired annually in the coming year—a rate more than 25 times higher than in 1990. While many of these phones gather dust in drawers or closets, a large number are sent to landfills, adding to the solid waste problem that is impacting cities and communities everywhere.

Collection and recycling programs, however, are targeting the problem. For example, ReCellular Inc., Dexter, MI, has kept over 10 million of such products out of America’s landfills. Over 50 percent of the cell phones collected by ReCellular are refurbished to near-new condition or otherwise certified for resale, then packaged and marketed to users in developing nations of the world where new phones are cost-prohibitive. Handsets that cannot be rebuilt are disassembled and recycled. No environmental waste goes to landfills or incinerators, either directly or through intermediaries.

“ Despite the clear advantages of cell phone recycling, only one percent of retired cell phones are currently made available,” said Chuck Newman, founder and CEO of ReCellular. “People seem to inherently know that throwing old cell phones in the household trash isn’t a good thing to do, so many are simply hanging on to them. It’s critical we get the word out that cell phone recycling is not only immensely beneficial, but also easy to do.”

Cell phone collection programs have found their way into virtually every community in the United States. Major wireless industry companies including Sprint and Verizon Wireless, as well as consumer electronics retailer BestBuy, collect used cell phones at their stores. The Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corp., a non-profit public service corporation, is now collecting cell phones for recycling at over 30,000 participating retail locations around the U.S. including RadioShack, Sears and Target stores.

Many charitable organizations have also joined the effort to make cell phone collection easy. Veterans Advantage (, the March of Dimes (, and dozens of local civic, community and religious groups have initiated collection programs. Non-profits receive the bulk of the proceeds from cell phone recycling programs. One watchdog group, in fact, reports that over $6.5 million have been given to charity through cell phone donations since 1999.

ReCellular maintains an on-line clearinghouse of locations at which cell phones can be donated. Visit www.wirelessrecy or for a list of drop-off locations.

Erickson Honored by Green Cross

Global Green USA, the U.S. affiliate of Green Cross International, awarded Gary Erickson, founder and CEO of CLIF BAR, with the Millennium Award for Corporate Environmental Leadership. Erickson was honored for his commitment to reduce his company’s ecological footprint on the planet through a variety of environmental programs. These include helping build the first large-scale, Native American-owned wind farm to help offset the company’s CO2 production; using recycled packaging and eliminating the use of thousands of pounds of shrink wrap; and incorporating organic ingredients into CLIF BAR, the first major energy bar brand to be certified organic.

The Green Cross Millennium Awards celebrate the environmental leadership of extraordinary individuals, companies and organizations who recognize the connection between humankind and nature.

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