JUNE 2008

ISRI testifies on electronics recycling

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) testified before the United States House Committee on Science and Technology on April 30.

The hearing, entitled “Electronic Waste: Can the Nation Manage Modern Refuse in the Digital Age?,” was to examine the challenges of recycling household electronic equipment in the United States as the nation prepares to switch from analog to digital, which could send a number of older televisions into the recycling stream. Chairman Bart Gordon (TN) and members of the committee were interested in learning how research and technology could improve the sustainability of the existing recycling infrastructure.

Eric Harris, associate counsel/director of government and international affairs, testified on behalf of ISRI and reminded the committee that ‘scrap is not waste’ and ‘recycling is not disposal’. He also pointed out that there is still a net-negative cost to responsibly recycle leaded glass from cathode ray tubes and to separate commingled scrap plastic resins into a high-grade specification. “Until the market for recyclable electronics becomes economically viable, ISRI’s policy continues to support holding producers responsible for the collection, transportation and recycling of household electronic equipment that has a net-negative cost to recycle,” Harris stated.

ISRI suggested that the Technology Committee should target research and development dollars to develop new, end-use markets and investment incentives to increase recycling yields which could inject investor confidence into the electronics recycling market.