December 10, 2009

Klobuchar, Gillibrand Announce Bipartisan Legislation to Promote Recycling of Electronic Waste Clears Committee

Bipartisan bill to promote the recycling, re-use and refurbishment of electronics will help reduce hazardous waste

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced that the Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act has been passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  The bipartisan legislation would promote research and development programs to improve electronic equipment recycling and reduce the use of hazardous materials in electronics.  The bill would provide research grants to address hazardous electronic waste (e-waste), much of which contains material that should not be dumped into landfills.  The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Collins (R-ME), Durbin (D-IL), Landrieu (D-LA), and Merkley (D-OR).

"Technology continues to advance, but our ways of disposing of electronic equipment haven't kept up," said Senator Klobuchar.  "Many states, including Minnesota, are leading the way on recycling electronic equipment, but we need a national solution to ensure that all unwanted electronics are discarded in a safe and responsible manner."

"For too long, too many people have been improperly dumping electronic devices without being aware of the dangerous effects on our environment," Senator Gillibrand said. "This legislation is a win-win for protecting the environment and our families. It takes the right steps to develop the best methods to change the way we dispose of outdated and unused electronics, and the hazardous materials they often contain."

Many electronics contain hazardous substances, like lead and cadmium, which can seep into soil and water.  Yet, only about 15 percent of electronic devices are recycled in the United States.  The Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2006 alone, Americans generated 2.9 million tons of e-waste.  The volume of e-waste is expected to increase in the coming years as more Americans get rid of their old televisions in the wake of the transition to digital television.

The Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act would make competitively awarded grants available to universities, government labs, and private industry for research, development and demonstration projects for electronic device recycling, re-use, and refurbishment, and to aid in the development of more environmentally-friendly electronic materials.