Thursday, September 3, 2020

House Environmental Committee Meets Sept. 16 On Recycling Solar Panels; But E-Waste Law Is Broken

The House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee is scheduled to hold an informational meeting September 16 on recycling solar panels.
Also on the agenda is House Bill 2197 (Dush-R-Clearfield) which would add solar panels-- “photovoltaic modules”-- to the state’s Electronic Waste Recycling Program-- Covered Device Recycling Act--  requiring manufacturers to support recycling programs that collect solar panels for recycling.
The issue of recycling solar panels has been brought up frequently by Rep. Dush and other conservatives in hearings on climate change and renewable energy.
They contend the state should not rush into promoting renewable energy until there is a viable way to recycle the panels.
The meeting will be held in Room 60 East Wing of the Capitol starting at 10:00 a.m.  Click Here to watch the hearing online.
Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) serves as Majority Chair of the House Environmental Committee and can be contacted by calling 717-783-1707 or sending email to: Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) serves as Minority Chair and can be contacted by calling 717-787-7647 or sending email to:
E-Waste Program Broken
Pennsylvania’s Electronic Waste Recycling Program is widely acknowledged to be “broken,” “collapsed,” and at the very least not working very effectively with spotty coverage across the state.
In April of 2019, the House Environmental Committee held a hearing on recycling, and electronic waste recycling in particular, and heard testimony about how the e-waste program is broken, both for the communities it serves and the electronics product manufacturers that support it.  Read more here.
During the hearing, the PA Recycling Markets Center said the collapse of the global market for recycling leaded glass in CRT televisions in particular has resulted in the inability of local governments to recycle a major part of the electronics waste stream. 
The Center estimated in 2017 there were 5.1 million CRT televisions and monitors waiting to be recycling in Pennsylvania.
A dozen or more counties, at the time of the House hearing in 2019, had no access to e-waste recycling when the program is required to be statewide.  
Huge demand for electronics waste recycling in Lackawanna County actually shut down an e-waste collection event in November of last year and this year Lackawanna County urged residents to call their legislators to fix the e-waste recycling law.
Several bills have been introduced in the 2019-20 session to get at parts of the problem with the Electronic Waste Recycling Program, but none have moved-- Senate Bill 52 (Gorder-R-Colunbia), House Bill 75 (Rothman-R-Cumberland), House Bill 575 (Flynn-D- Lackawanna) and House Bill 2299 (Zabel-D-Delaware).
The General Assembly’s last major attempt to fix the law was in 2017-- Senate Bill 800 (Alloway-R- Franklin)-- and was the topic of a hearing in October of that year, but it never went anywhere.  Read more here.
In 2016 the Joint House-Senate Legislative Air and Water Pollution Control and Conservation Committee held a hearing on the e-waste program laying out all the problems communities, recyclers and everyone else in the chain of recycling were having.  Read more here.
Keep PA Beautiful told the Joint Committee one result of not having access to e-waste recycling programs is TVs and CRTs are being dumped along roadsides and streams or simply abandoned on streets and roads.  Read more here.
Frustrated with the lack of options for the public, Keep PA Beautiful opened an Electronics Waste Recycling website to help citizens find the recycling options that are available.  Read more here.  The eWastePA website is still running.
A PA Township News article in October of 2016 on the e-waste program also laid out the issues facing local governments in offering this service to their residents.  Read more here.
Efforts to fix the e-waste law first began in 2016 when the original sponsor of the 2010 law-- Rep. Chris Ross (R-Chester)-- introduced House Bill 1900 and worked with stakeholders to try to come to some sort of resolution.   Read more here.
Rep. Ross retired from the House before any action was taken on the bill.
Perhaps before the General Assembly adds something else to the Electronic Waste Recycling Program, it should first fix it.  It has a long history of doing nothing while residents line up in vane hoping to recycle their e-waste.
Learn more about the program by visiting DEP’s Electronics Recycling Program webpage.

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