US Congress Passes E-Waste Bill in Nod to Earth Day

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Lawmakers have paid tribute to Earth Day with legislation providing grant funds for practical solutions to reduce the growing mounds of old cell phones, televisions, computers and other electronic devices.

In an Earth Day nod, the US Congress earlier this week approved legislation for grant programmes to reduce the volume of discarded electronic products and education and training in clean energy and high-performance building design.%u2028%u2028

The US Electronic Device Recycling Research and Development Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to award multi-year grants for research to create innovative and practical approaches to reduce the volume and manage the environmental impacts of electronic waste.%u2028%u2028

“This is a step toward a better end for the millions of old cell phones, televisions, computers and other electronic devices Americans discard every year,” Bart Gordon, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, said in a statement. “Right now, we send most to landfills, where toxic materials, like lead and cadmium, may leech into soil and water, and where valuable materials, like gold and copper, are unusable. We store a lot in our closets or junk drawers, for lack of a better alternative, and we recycle a small percentage.”

The US Green Energy Education Act of 2009 requires the Secretary of Energy to contribute energy research and development funds to the National Science Foundation for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship program to support graduate education related to green energy building projects.

“Buildings consume more energy than any other sector of the economy. We have a significant opportunity to save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by fostering and using innovations in high-performance building technologies, materials, techniques and systems,” said Gordon. “The legislation would provide interdisciplinary education and training in high-performance building design and construction to the next generation of architects and engineers that we’ll need.”

The legislation now moves to the Senate.