New Coalition Pushes for E-Waste Legislation; Breaking from ISRI

Date: December 26, 2011

Source: News Room

A new coalition of industry groups and activists is getting stronger with new members driving for legislation that would strengthen EPA's authority to regulate electronic waste (e-waste).
The Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) recently announced Sims Recycling Solutions, the largest e-waste recycler in the world, has joined the group, which could signal a break in the ranks with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), which opposes the legislation. Many e-waste recyclers have long complained of a patchwork of state regulations that makes it difficult to operate their business, but more recently they are complaining about getting undercut by competitors with unscrupulous scrapping practices who send their e-waste overseas to developing countries. "The addition of these industry leaders reflects growing consensus that [the legislation] is good for business and will create much-needed jobs and enhance sustainability," says John Shegerian, president of Electronic Recyclers International in a CAER press release. "Our members are committed to growing an American industry with the capacity to manage e-waste generated within our borders and the potential to create tens of thousands of jobs in every part of the country."

Pending legislation in the Senate, S. 1270, and the House companion, H.R. 2284, would strengthen EPA's authority to regulate e-waste and prohibit the export from the United States of restricted e-waste to developing countries. The legislation defines restricted e-waste as electronic equipment such as computers, televisions, video game systems and telephones that contain parts containing lead, cadmium, mercury, organic solvents, hexavalent chromium, beryllium or other toxics, according to a summary of the Senate version of the bill.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) are the chief sponsors of the measures, which now have two cosponsors in the Senate and 13 cosponsors in the House.

For its part, ISRI contends that 70 percent by weight of the 3.5 million tons of electronics collected and recycled in the United States is processed in this country and sold in the U.S. or global marketplace as commodity-grade scrap. "Any attempts to handcuff the growing electronics industry . . . will hurt small business, kill jobs and threaten our environment."

Sign up to receive our free Weekly News Bulletin