Because Goodwill Industries is increasingly becoming a place to “donate” old computers and other used electronics, the organization is urging Congress to assist in the development of a recycling and reuse infrastructure.
In testimony before the House Science and Technology Committee, Goodwill described the challenges facing non-profit organizations that accept donated electronic waste.
“There are costs, responsibilities, and liabilities associated with serving as a collector,” said Jim Gibbons, President and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. “As much as 30 percent of electronics donated to Goodwill are unusable, and disposing of these products in an environmentally responsible way diverts significant resources from Goodwill’s job training programs.”
23 million pounds of e-waste – or roughly 821,000 computers – were donated to Goodwill alone in 2004. Nearly all Goodwill agencies receive computers and a growing number have established formal collection programs designed to re-use, recycle or responsibly dispose of them. Whenever possible, the equipment is refurbished and resold. Increasingly, however, non-profit organizations like Goodwill are shouldering the often costly burden of responsible disposal.
Goodwill Industries is calling on the federal government to:
* Assist in the development of a sustainable recycling/reuse infrastructure;
* Support incentives to manufacturers for product design changes; and
* Use incentives such as tax credits for manufacturers who partner with social agencies, as well as recycling grants and other initiatives that could spur viable solutions and help stakeholders handle this problem.