U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
introduced bipartisan legislation to promote the research and
development of programs to improve the collection and recycling of
electronic equipment and to reduce the use of hazardous materials in
electronics. The Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development
Act would provide research grants to find ways to deal with the growing
amount of electronic waste (e-waste), much of which contains hazardous
materials and should not be dumped into landfills. The legislation is
also cosponsored by Susan Collins (R-ME).
“Technology continues to advance, but our ways of disposing of electronic equipment haven’t kept up,” said 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
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change the way we dispose of outdated and unused electronics, and the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.”
disposal of e-waste, such as old televisions and computers, can be
environmental and health hazards since many of these 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 U.S.
The Environmental Protection
Agency reported that in 2006 alone, Americans generated 2.9 million
tons of e-waste. Of that, only 330,000 tons were recycled. 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 low rate of recycling
reflects a number of barriers, such as the expense of collecting old
devices from consumers and an inefficient disassembly process, which is
both time and labor intensive, and often makes it difficult to reuse
valuable electronic parts and materials.
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.
Minnesota instituted an electronic recycling program in 2007.