The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing focused on identifying opportunities for expanding the recycling and reuse of electronics within the U.S. to help our country meet its climate goals and ensure a secure and stable supply chain for critical minerals. The committee, chaired by longtime ISRI ally Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), included Ranking Member Sen. Shelley Capito (R-WV), Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK).
The panel before the committee included ISRI members Ajay Kochhar, president, CEO, and co-founder of Li-Cycle, Craig Boswell, P.E., president and co-founder of HOBI International.
“The evolution and constantly shifting information technology market has been truly breathtaking during the past few years,” Boswell said, noting the growth has led to challenges in the U.S. “These challenges could see even more dramatic shifts in the industry in the upcoming years and impede the ability of the industry to grow to meet the ever-increasing demand…It is vital that manufacturers increase their focus on sustainability…to ensure these innovative products that improve our lives are easily disassembled, reused, and ultimately recycled. Designing these products for sustainability and recycling is both good for the bottom-line and for the environment and is essential in realizing the tremendous benefit that recovered products represent in the critical mineral supply chain.”
Boswell focused his testimony on:
- The expanded use of embedded Lithium Ion and Lithium primary batteries.
- Manufacturers increase their focus on sustainability of their products by incorporating Design for Recycling® concepts at the earliest part of research and development.
Kochhar agreed with Boswell, adding “We believe that establishing policies and incentives to support environmentally friendly recycling solutions and encouraging automakers and battery manufacturers to use recycled material are vitally important to support the clean energy transition,” he said. “These actions will be critical to accelerating the successful future of this emerging industry, an industry which is essential to the future of our planet.”
He also outlined key initiatives to support battery recycling which include:
- Defined responsibility for end-of-life battery management.
- Incentivizing battery recycling centers.
- Landfilling of lithium-ion batteries should be strongly discouraged.
- Incentivize recycling that meets the highest environmental standards.
- Requiring minimum recycled content in new batteries.
- Clear and consistent regulations on the movement of batteries and black mass.
The Senate Committee probed and dug deeper on certain issues including:
- Does existing federal legislation provide good direction?
- Should Congress require manufacturers to fund municipal recycling?
- What are key actions Congress should consider to improve circularity, shore domestic supply of critical minerals and reuse?
- Is manufacturing looking at end of life for growing electrification of items?
Carper ended the hearing with a quote, “Amidst adversity there is opportunity.”
There is bipartisan support for the U.S. to transition to a decarbonized economy and the recycled materials industry has an integral role in providing the high-quality materials, especially for batteries and electric vehicles, to the manufacturing sector to help achieve this goal. The recycled materials industry must be a part of policy discussions and decisions that affect electrification and batteries, and are related to meeting national commitments to transition to a decarbonized economy by maintaining a safe and stable manufacturing supply chain.