Coalition for American Electronics Recycling Calls for Action to Address COVID-19 Homework Gap, Digital Divide

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- To help more American families access affordable technology they need for distance learning, the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) today called for amendment of an outdated executive order that prevents distribution of surplus federal IT to private-sector recyclers and refurbishers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted America's ongoing digital divide: One in four lower-income teens do not have access to a home computer, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center. That compares to just 4% in households earning more than $75,000. This equality issue has delayed the shift to online education for many public school students across the country.

Whether a family needs its first PC, or additional technology to support several children, refurbished technology provides a more affordable option for lower-income families. However, there is a bottleneck in meeting this need: America's certified electronics refurbishers typically source used-but-still-useful IT equipment from companies that are upgrading to new equipment. But as COVID-19 has slowed the economy few companies are investing in new hardware, which has created a shortage of used equipment.

Surplus computers from government agencies could help fill the gap and ensure more learners get essential equipment. However, under EO12999, signed by President Clinton in 1996, used federal assets can only be distributed by the General Services Administration to nonprofit organizations for refurbishment and distribution to schools.

"CAER supports the efforts of nonprofits engaged in refurbishing this material, but we are concerned that this policy limits access to available equipment," said Todd Zegers, Global Vice President - ITAD & Reverse Logistics at Ingram Micro and a member of the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling. "By amending EO12999, private-sector companies can increase the availability of like-new technology at a much lower cost than new equipment." Today's advanced refurbishment industry in the United States was barely in its infancy when EO12999 was signed, he added.

A Long-Term Challenge
The homework gap is not a problem that's likely to go away soon. E-learning may be a continued need depending on the course of COVID-19 and the need for stay-at-home mandates. Even if schools reopen in the fall, they will need procedures for closing again, as outlined in a new Blueprint for Back to School.

"We need to ensure that all families have the resources they need for success and amending EO 12999 is a step in the right direction," said Zegers.

About CAER
The Coalition for American Electronics Recycling is the voice of the emerging e-waste recycling industry on Capitol Hill. CAER includes more than 150 companies and supporting members operating more than 300 facilities in 37 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

SOURCE Coalition for American Electronics Recycling