Congress Holds Hearings on Electronic Waste

Article excerpt

Congress held a series of hearings last week to address the growing stream of electronic waste and problems related to its disposal.

The House Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials heard testimony from federal government agencies and three states that have enacted legislation on this issue.

The Senate Subcommittee on Superfund and Waste Management also heard from government agencies, and from a panel dedicated to industry.

All speakers highlighted the need for a solution to this growing and dangerous problem.

"Electronic waste is the fastest growing waste stream, growing three times faster than municipalities' regular solid waste, thereby becoming the new hazardous waste crisis," said Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Environment and Hazardous Materials.

Approximately 3,000 tons of computers alone are discarded each day. Each computer averages four to eight pounds of lead and contains significant amounts of cadmium, arsenic and mercury, which can lead to cancer and birth defects.

Currently only 10 percent of electronic waste is recycled. While electronics contain valuable copper, gold and aluminum, they are difficult to disassemble due to their structure and toxic elements. …