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February 2004

Millions Secured for Recycling Plastics from E-Waste

Washington, DC— Congressman Alan B. Mollohan has obtained $3 million in new funding for the high-tech recycling initiative that is being jointly developed by West Virginia University and the Parkersburg area’s Polymer Alliance Zone (PAZ).

“The disposal of used computers and other electronics is a growing problem, both here at home and abroad,” Mollohan said. “According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, more than 3.2 million tons of unwanted electronics are being dumped in the U.S. every year. Studies suggest the amount of obsolete equipment being sent to America’s landfills could quadruple in the years to come.” This is not only wasteful, but also will shorten the usable lifespan of our landfills,” he said.

Mollohan noted that the glass and metal from used computers already can be recycled. However, no one has yet developed an economically feasible way to recover the plastic components. Creating such a system is the goal of the PAZ-WVU project, known as MARCEE: Mid-Atlantic Recycling Center for End-of-Life Electronics.

The two organizations initiated MARCEE with funding Mollohan obtained in 1998. He has secured additional money for the project in the years since, enabling WVU and PAZ to partner on the research of new polymer separation technologies and the development of new uses for recycled plastics.

A senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Mollohan put the new $3 million in the Energy Department’s 2004 appropriations bill. The measure was signed into law last month by President Bush. The money will finance ongoing research in electronics recycling. It also will go toward the establishment of the Polymer Technology Park in Parkersburg and the Polymer Research Center at West Virginia University in Morgantown. It will support the expansion of Internet-based information exchanges for electronics recycling.

“The Polymer Alliance Zone and WVU are two excellent resources in our state. By harnessing their expertise in plastics and research, we can become a national leader in the recycling of electronics. This would result in new jobs and new investments here in West Virginia,” Mollohan said.

Graham said, “When implemented, this project will be living proof that you can protect the environment and at the same time create quality jobs and investments.”

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