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2024 MRN/SWANA Mid-Atlantic Annual Conference - 6/10/2024


MRN President Kitty McIlroy testifies before the U.S. Senate Committee on E-cycling

Published on 7/26/2023

Kitty McIlroy-Senate EPW Testimony
MRN President Kitty McIlroy testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on July 26. The hearing addressed “Improving Capacity for Critical Mineral Recovery through Electronic Waste Recycling and Reuse.”

McIlroy, representing her experience as a project manager for electronics recycling contracts at the Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority and as president of Maryland Recycling Network, provided MRN’s recommendation on improving electronics recovery at the national level as well as context on what the public sector has been facing over the past 10 years with electronics recycling.

Listen to full hearing here (McIlroy’s testimony begins at 1:03)

McIlroy Testimony before US Senate Environment & Public Works Committee 2023-07-26.

Below are several key points of the testimony:

Why Electronics Recycling Is Needed:
Solid waste rates are rising, and many jurisdictions are already shipping solid waste out of state due to limited landfill capacity. Electronic recovery has added fire safety risks, especially concerning lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. On the other hand, electronics recycling can be beneficial by decreasing the presence of heavy metals in landfill leachate and creating jobs due to a growing global demand for precious metals.

How Programs Are Currently Managed: Most municipal electronics recycling programs are managed at the local level, and while many can do so efficiently, the costs are often prohibitive (i.e., managing hazardous components; providing infrastructure, transportation, equipment, labor, and recycling certifications). Twenty-five states (including Maryland and DC) do have electronic laws that may provide funding and/or collection via manufacturers to a varying degree; however, many either don't or are falling short of what is needed, leaving local governments with the burden of collection and disposal costs.

For example, over the past decade, many of these programs in Maryland have closed (or at least partially closed), due to a lack of funding, which means most electronics are being landfilled. Beginning in FY ‘14, after the electronics recycling market crashed, only four of eight Northeast Maryland Waste Disposal Authority members were able to continue their full electronics programs, amounting to over 5,000,000 pounds a year of TVs and monitors going into landfills. For FY ’23 and ’22, it has cost Authority members over $900,000 a year to run these programs. Currently, only 7 of 23 Counties in Maryland can provide permanent recycling for all electronics at no cost upon drop off for residents.

Proven, Existing Solutions that Can Function as a National Model: While the market is currently recovering, it will also be subject to unpredictable commodity markets, recession and inflation, making it important for the public sector, especially rural areas and jurisdictions with limited resources, to have access to sustainable sources of funding. We believe at the minimum, that a national Congress-chaired workgroup—consisting of local and state government, non-profit EPR experts, recyclers, producers, retailers, and certification bodies—should be convened to review best practices, look at what has worked (e.g., see Connecticut and/or California programs), and provide a streamlined, cohesive set of policy recommendations.

Additional Resources:

Statements from U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman, Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee:

Chairman Carper’s Opening Statement: Hearing on Electronic Waste Recycling and Reuse

Carper Makes Economic, Environmental Case for Improving Electronic Waste Recycling and Reuse

Statements from U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R - WV),  Ranking Member, Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee

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