Zabel introduces bill to address state’s electronic waste recycling issue

HARRISBURG, Feb. 12 – State Rep. Mike Zabel, D-Delaware, introduced a bill Tuesday that would address Pennsylvania’s existing electronic waste recycling law.

House Bill 2299, which has nearly 50 Democratic and Republican cosponsors, would establish the Manufacturer E-waste Program and the Advisory Electronics Recycling Task Force.

“The e-waste law enacted in Pennsylvania several years ago is failing,” Zabel said, adding that the current program is underfunded because the cost to manufacturers is based on weight of devices previously sold. Since newer devices weigh less, he continued, manufacturers are required to recycle fewer old devices.

“The imbalance is leading to an increase in illegal dumping in forests, empty lots and other locales, both blighting our environment and costing our communities.”

Zabel’s legislation would utilize best practices that have been implemented in other states to make Pennsylvania’s e-waste recycling law more effective.

“E-waste is the fastest growing portion of the municipal waste stream,” Zabel said. “While it represents only 2% of America’s trash in landfills, it represents 70% of the toxicity in the waste stream. Properly recycling e-waste would not only reduce negative environmental impacts, but it would add value to our economy.”

Zabel cited Environmental Protection Agency figures that recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by more than 3,500 U.S. homes in a year, and for every cell phone recycled, 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

“Almost all of us have dealt with the byproduct of our technologically driven world,” Zabel said. “The challenge is how to manage outdated or inoperable electronic products. This bill takes that challenge head-on.”