Washington, D.C. – Three weeks ago, Sen. John Thune, the South Dakota Republican who in 2004 unseated Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle, held his first hearing as chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Superfund and Waste Management. The topic: electronic waste, something Thune confessed he wasn’t too aware of previously.
“I had heard of e-mail and e-commerce,” Thune mused. “I guess it makes sense that we have e-waste.”
For business, what makes sense is that Congress pay more attention to e-waste now. Speaking on behalf of the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition, an industry group representing the likes of Circuit City Stores and Target, Michael Vitelli of Best Buy said his group favored “a national solution to the issue of electronic waste.” Vitelli noted that in the first half of 2005, 50 e-waste bills were introduced by 30 state and local legislatures.
The legislative flurry underscores the significance of the problem. A recent report from the Government Accountability Office warned that 100 million computers, monitors and televisions become obsolete each year. In those devices lurks nasty stuff such as lead, mercury and cadmium.