Assembly Natural Resources Committee holds public hearings regarding e-waste, phosphorus reduction

MADISON — It may soon be far easier for consumers to properly dispose of old computers, printers, and other electronic waste containing toxic substances after the Assembly Natural Resources Committee held public hearings today on Assembly Bill 278, a measure that would require electronic manufacturers to collect and properly dispose of toxic e-waste for consumers.

“The current system for disposing of electronic waste is cumbersome and inconvenient, with consumers often resorting to dumping toxic waste in landfills,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director for Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Wisconsinites want to do the right thing, and this bill will enable them to protect the environment by properly and conveniently disposing of electronic waste.”

Electronic waste such as old computers, printers, and television sets often contain toxic mercury that pollutes our lakes, rivers and streams while endangering human health. Beyond mercury, e-waste often contains cadmium, lead, chromium and bromated flame retardants, toxic substances which leach into the ground and water from landfills, threatening human and environmental health.

“Because of the inconvenience of the current system for recycling electronic waste, only ten percent of e-waste is properly recycled today,” said Smith. “By requiring electronics manufacturers to help consumers properly dispose of e-waste, this bill will help significantly increase the recycling of electronics and reduce toxic substances polluting our environment.”

Beyond working to clean our environment by making electronic waste disposal more convenient, the Assembly Natural Resources Committee further heard public testimony on Assembly Bill 281 which would protect Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and streams by eliminating phosphorus in household dish soap– a nutrient known to spur algae growth, choking waterways and killing plants and fish.

“Protecting Wisconsin’s land and water from toxic and harmful substances is an issue people across the state strongly support,” said Smith. “The bills being considered today in the Assembly Natural Resources Committee will help ensure that our clean environment is protected today for generations to come.”