I was surprised when I was again asked by government officials in Washington, DC about whether the American electronics recycling industry can ramp up capacity fast enough to absorb the onslaught of unprocessed electronics that will no longer be allowed to be exported to developing countries if the Responsible Electroncis Recycling Act passes Congress.
First of all, the export ban in the proposed legislation goes into effect 2 years after its enactment. This affords the industry sufficient time to develop plans, make investments, install equipment, hire staff, and essentially grow to meet the expected increase demands from this change.
In addition, industry representatives from the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling report that they all currently have significant excess capacity and can add work shifts (employing more people) and increase processing equipment utilization without additional capital outlays.
Third, the same concern was raised earlier about the industry developing a collection infrastructure to respond to state landfill bans of e-waste. But this problem (lack of capacity) never materialized because firms were able to quickly set up or grow appropriate resources to meet the new demand. In California, hundreds of companies registered as Collectors for that state’s e-waste recycling program within two years of its enactment.
In the business world, growing capacity to meet increased demand for products or services is a challenge we are more than happy to solve. Government officials have no reason to be concerned about whether business wants to make investments, create jobs and boost profits by ramping up capacity to meet increased demand for services.