At some point in the not-too-distant future, there will be a clear need for a national e-waste recycling law. As more and more states implement legislation requiring that electronics be kept out of landfills, manufacturers will understandably grow weary of trying to comply with dozens of disparate regulations.
The Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act (S. 1397), introduced in the U.S. Senate in July by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., may help pave the way for a national e-waste recycling law. The U.S. House of Representatives passed an identical version of the bill (H.R. 1580) in April.
The act would authorize the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to award grants to universities, government laboratories and private companies. The recipients would use the grants for e-waste recycling research and development as well as to study ways to reduce toxic substances in electronics. (For more on this bill, see "E-Waste Not".)
As of this moment, 19 states and New York City have e-waste recycling laws on the books. In effect, these jurisdictions also are serving as laboratories for a federal law, as Waste Age columnist Chaz Miller once pointed out: "One of the beauties of our federalist system is that states can function as test sites. Let's take the time to see what works and what doesn't work … and learn from their experience" ("Let's Do It Right!", Waste Age, January 2006).
When the time comes to create a national e-waste recycling law, it's important that we get it right. The Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act, along with the experiences of the jurisdictions with e-waste recycling laws, will help pinpoint the most effective recycling methods. Here's hoping the Senate passes the act soon.
Speaking of Chaz Miller, the American Society of Business Publication Editors recently gave him a regional Gold Award in the “Regular Column, Contributed” category. We're starting to lose track of how many awards Chaz has won recently, but it's nice to see others recognize what Waste Age's editors and readers have known for years: that he is a tremendously talented and entertaining writer. Congratulations, Chaz.