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Electronics recycling advocates make case for federal support

The newsletter this month is a brief summary, interpretation of  a Senate hearing where electronics recycling advocates emphasized the need for federal support to address challenges in recycling and reusing electronic waste. I have outlined the key points and included my thoughts. 


The in Challenges in Recycling: Issues such as limited access, recycling education, and lack of convenient options hinder efficient electronics recycling, leading to electronic waste disposal problems. Despite state funded take back programs being 15 years old, we still see residents and businesses that are unfamiliar with recycling laws and regulations. 


Critical Minerals Recovery:** Better recycling systems can help the U.S. recover critical minerals, essential for electronic device production. Lawmakers view mineral recovery as an economic priority to reduce dependence on foreign supply chains. Interco inc recently brought Critical Mineral Recovery online in Missouri.. This facility has the capacity to process 60,000 tons of EV and Li-ion batteries annually. 


Investments Needed: Advocates call for investments in various electronics recycling initiatives, from facility upgrades to supporting small operations. Right-to-repair laws and extended producer responsibility laws are suggested to extend the life of electronics.  A great point in the article is that it stresses the need for small collectors of e-waste. The writer seems to understand that without a network of small for profit collection facilities there can be no Green Economy. 


Battery Recycling Investments:* The U.S. has invested in battery recycling projects to reduce dependence on foreign supply chains. A Canadian company, Li-Cycle, secured a $375 million loan to build a battery recycling facility in New York, creating jobs and supporting a localized battery industry. I included this because again the writer stresses job creation.  Electronics Recycling is not only a viable way to conserve resources it is a way to create sustainable, living wage jobs. 


Upcoming Trade Law Changes: Changes to the Basel Convention in 2025 may categorize some electronics as hazardous waste, affecting international trade. Advocates express concerns about potential limitations on trading with countries not party to the convention. 


Local Government’s Role: Local jurisdictions play a crucial role in improving electronics recycling, but funding challenges impact programs. Calls for a national congressional workgroup and extended producer responsibility models are made to support localities. Furthermore, convincing local governments to favor the for profit collector over the nonprofit collector will drive the industry and create higher paying jobs. 


Reuse and Refurbish Priorities: Advocates stress the economic and environmental importance of reusing and refurbishing electronics. Challenges include the lack of right-to-repair legislation allowing access to parts and instructions. Reuse is a crucial part to the recycling hierarchy.

It takes far less resources to reuse than to manufacture. Personally, I would like to see the push for R2V3 and ISO certification requirements for all collectors. This would ensure that reuse is documented and that recycled commodities are processed in an environmentally secure way. 


The article highlights the economic, environmental, and geopolitical implications of effective electronics recycling and the need for comprehensive policies and investments.  


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