Federal Limits on E-Waste Exports Could Create Up To 42,000 U.S. Jobs, According to New Study by Coalition for American Electronics Recycling

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Legislation to promote sustainable domestic electronics recycling could drive $1 billion in new U.S. payroll

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The potential for job creation is a major reason RERA continues to attract co-sponsors from both parties at a time when bipartisanship remains rare on Capitol Hill.

Restrictions on e-waste exports could create up to 42,000 direct and indirect new jobs with a total payroll of more than $1 billion, according to a new study commissioned by the Coalition For American Electronics Recycling (CAER).

“The study further documents how growing an industry with the capacity to manage the volume of e-waste generated within our borders could create tens of thousands of good-paying American jobs by promoting investment in our domestic infrastructure,” said Steve Skurnac, President of Sims Recycling Solutions and CAER steering committee member.

CAER includes a wide range of electronics recyclers and affiliate organizations that support passage of the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA), legislation that will promote fair and responsible e-waste trade. The bill, which will be reintroduced in the current session of Congress, bans the export of certain types of unprocessed and non-working electronics and e-waste from the U.S. to developing countries. Fair trade in tested, working electronics and processed e-scrap commodities would not be restricted.

The study (see attached) was conducted by DSM Environmental Services, Inc., a research and consulting firm focused on recycling, materials management and solid waste management strategies. It includes a survey of CAER members, which estimates current employment at about 6,850 people in the U.S., with a payroll of approximately $250 million. While nearly 1.2 billion pounds of electronics were recycled by CAER members last year, a comparison to data in a recent U.S. EPA-funded report determined that another 3.6 billion pounds was exported, sent to landfills or otherwise processed.

Processing this e-waste in the U.S. would create 21,000 full-time equivalent recycling jobs with a corresponding payroll of $772 million and the potential for 21,000 additional indirect jobs, according to the study. The study notes that jobs will further increase as e-waste volumes rise in the years ahead. The U.S. EPA estimates that e-waste is growing two to three times faster than any other portion of the waste stream, fueled by the continued proliferation of electronic devices.

“The potential for job creation is a major reason RERA continues to attract co-sponsors from both parties at a time when bipartisanship remains rare on Capitol Hill,” said Wendy Neu, Executive Vice President of Hugo Neu Corporation and CAER steering committee member. “We look forward to securing passage of this important legislation during the 113th Congress.”

In the 112th Congress, the measure that is the basis for the jobs study attracted 26 House and Senate co-sponsors, including 14 Republicans and 12 Democrats. The House version was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-TX). In the Senate, co-sponsors of the 2012 bill included U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI). A new version of the bill is expected to be introduced soon in the 113th Congress.

Since its founding in November 2011, CAER has grown to include 82 U.S. companies operating about 158 electronics recycling and disposition facilities operations in 34 states and the District of Columbia. CAER’s steering committee includes representatives from industry leaders Waste Management, Cascade Asset Management, ECS Refining, Electronic Recyclers International and Hesstech, as well as Sims Recycling Solutions and Hugo Neu.

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