Associations Reach Consensus on E-Scrap, Seek To Promote Reuse, Recycling

Four major recycling and solid waste management associations have joined together to promote the importance of reuse and recycling as the best way to manage discarded electronic products such as obsolete computers, monitors, televisions and cell phones. The groups also will offer their assistance in the development of a comprehensive nationwide framework that will ensure that these goods are reused or recycled, according to a Dec. 19, 2006, statement.

The Integrated Waste Services Association (IWSA), the National Recycling Coalition (NRC), the National Solid Wastes Management Association (NSWMA), and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) added that a solution at the federal level can provide a framework that could be complemented by each state, providing some standardization while allowing the states the flexibility to implement more stringent programs, if desired.

"NSWMA and its members are committed to working with other associations to ensure that recycling electronics products does not become an unfunded mandate for local governments or their private sector recycling contractors," said Bruce Parker, NSWMA's president and CEO.

These groups have committed themselves to the goal of greatly increasing to nearly 100 percent the recycling of e-scrap in the United States within 10 years. They are calling on all electronic product manufacturers, recyclers, retailers, federal, state and local governments, environmental groups, trade associations and other stakeholders to work together to attain this goal.

"The recycling of computer equipment fuels economic activity, creates jobs and diverts potentially hazardous materials from landfills. Today, hundreds of companies and organizations exist throughout the United States to process computer products for reuse and recycling. We believe that with a concerted national effort America can reach a 100-percent goal of recycling and reuse of all discarded electronics," said Kate Krebs, executive director, National Recycling Coalition.

The coalition is supporting, as a starting point, the adoption of financial incentives such as tax credits to consumers, manufacturers, retailers and recyclers for recycling old or unwanted computers, monitors and other electronic scrap waste, such as that proposed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

"This agreement acknowledges the importance of ensuring that the appropriate parties manage electronic scrap materials in an environmentally responsible and equitable manner," said Ted Michaels, president of IWSA.

"I am very pleased that the various recycling and solid waste management associations were able to reach common ground on this important issue. Perhaps this will encourage Congressional action on financial incentives to increase e-scrap recycling," said SWANA Executive Director and CEO John H. Skinner, Ph.D.

For more information, contact NRC at http://www.nrc-recycle.org.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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