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Speak out on Oregon HB 2626

Speak out on Oregon HB 2626

{nl} March 21, 2007With the average life of a computer now between 2-3 years, obsolete electronics equipment is becoming an increasing risk to the environment. A United Nations study found that to manufacture an average desktop computer and 17-inch CRT monitor requires about 1.8 tons of raw materials, primarily fossil fuels, chemicals, and water. The study also found that extending a computer's operating life through upgrades or donations for reuse saved 5-20 times more energy than recycling the computer. U.S. schools currently need 9 million additional PCs. U.S. charities need an additional 4.2 million PCsStudents of color are 30% less likely to have a PC in the home, the “Digital Divide” The Federal Government disposes of 10,000 PCs per weekCorporations and individuals dispose of 100,000 PCs per dayI am here to tell you about our nonprofit’s electronics refurbishing and recycling facility so you can see the impact and importance of organizations such as ours to our community members. NextStep1)    Educates and empowers low income and otherwise disadvantaged Oregonians by providing refurbished computers that allow access to technology and the Internet;2)    Recycles computer hardware and other electronics in an environmentally sound manner, keeping hazardous waste out of Oregon’s soil and water environments; and 3)    Provides skill-training opportunities to those who are considered unemployable, are currently underemployed, and/or are people new to the job market.Since I founded NextStep Recycling in 1999, volunteers and staff have repaired, placed and served as a technical support resource for over 10,000 computers and their new owners: people who experience disabilities, people who are home bound and/or bed ridden, elders, children living in Oregon foster care homes, adults who have been moving from institutional care into group homes, economically disadvantaged youth and adults, migrant workers and their children. Since expanding and opening our electronics recycling facility in 2004, we have recycled 750 tons of electronic waste. Three years ago we were all volunteers working out of my mother-in-laws garage.  We now occupy 18,000 square feet of space that is home to our thrift store, our electronic recycling facility, our electronic refurbishing facility, a receiving room, and our warehouse. We are also the reuse contractor for Lane County Solid Waste Management’s Electronics receiving station where we have accepted 170 tons of reusable electronics. Our volunteers include individuals from age 16 to 90 years old. We are partnered with Springfield High School Special Education Program, Laurel Hill Center, McKenzie Personnel, Lane Workforce Partnership, The Housing Authority, Voc Rehab, AARP and other training programs.Our community has demonstrated their interest and support in refurbishing computers. We first started out as a Macintosh fixit and pass it on grassroots organization. After moving into a public site, our donors begged us to take their PCs too. Then when we began our recycling program, community members asked us to accept their household electronics. We now say if it plugs in or runs on batteries, we probably take it!We receive donations from all over Oregon, Washington, and even California. We are a member of a growing and increasingly stable industry, and support this bill. One thing we hear over and over from our community members in our donations receiving room is “I am so glad you are here. I don’t want to throw this stuff out and I have been saving it up for recycling”. We hope that this bill will come to pass and that two keys elements will be included: reuse before recycling and funding to educate the public about the importance of full participation in the program.Respectfully,Lorraine Kerwood, Executive Director---March 23, 2007re·useTo use again, especially after salvaging or special treatment or processing.The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. To use something again, often for a different purpose and usually as an alternative to throwing it out. Encarta® World English Dictionary [North American Edition] © & (P)2007 Microsoft Corporation. re·fur·bish To make clean, bright, or fresh again; renovate.The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. Madam Chair, members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to speak. My name is Lorraine Kerwood, I am the founder and Executive Director of NextStep Recycling, an Oregon nonprofit electronics refurbishing and recycling facility.  I offer these definitions to you for the proposed legislation. Throughout the document the word “reuse” is referenced, but not defined. As this proposed legislation moves forward, I ask that the focus on reuse is emphasized and not ignored or forgotten as has occurred in Washington, California, and Maine e-waste recycling legislation.I attended almost all of the Electronic Stewardship Task Force meetings. The importance of reusing technology for the greater good of our state was discussed often and with great passion. Our nonprofit exists to address the digital divide in our communities. The term 'digital divide' describes the fact that the world can be divided into people who do and people who do not have access to - and the capability to use - modern information technology, such as computers and the Internet. The digital divide exists between those in cities and those in rural areas, between the educated and the uneducated, between economic classes, and, globally, between the more and less industrially developed nations.I started NextStep out of my own need. I was a special ed kid who grew up believing I was too stupid to understand computers and how useful a computer could be to my life. After a car accident in 1999, I found myself unemployed and unemployable. I decided to go to college and see about a new career. I was terrified to learn that the university expects all students know how to use a computer and have one available to them. I decided to go to Lane Community College and see if I could learn how to use a computer. I took an adult education class that taught me how to turn on the computer, what a word processor is and how to access the Internet. I was shocked and extremely surprised that computers are actually very friendly to folks like me who have diagnosis of autism, mentally challenged, and developmentally delayed. After I got my first computer the hard drive died and I tried to fix it myself. This led me to tearing computers apart, and rebuilding them. By the time I was proficient at refurbishing, I was a working as a child welfare worker. I met more and more folks who were like me-scared of computers, didn’t have access to the technology, but understood that having access to a computer could connect them to the wide world. Driven by the obvious need in our community to connect disenfranchised Oregonians with technology, I moved out of my mother in law’s garage and started NextStep.Since 2000, NextStep volunteers and staff have refurbished 10,000 computers and connected thousands of community members to technology. We are dedicated to the incorporation of information technologies into the community in order to promote education and improve the quality of life. We gift computers to persons who experience disabilities, children and adults living in foster care, family members leaving domestically violent relationship, migrant worker families, persons living in poverty, underfunded schools and nonprofits.We are one of 400 Microsoft Authorized Refurbishers in the US. I have been hearing from other refurbishers that the e-waste laws in their states have had a harmful impact on their programs. Some CA refurbishers are paying others to ship them monitors because the available monitors are going straight to recyclers. I have heard reports of small nonprofit refurbishing programs closing their doors because they no longer have access to working technology.At NextStep, our mission is two fold: connect technology with those who do not have access and to keep electronics out of our landfills. We believe reuse and recycling can co-exist and met the same objective of keeping electronics out of our landfills. We encourage you to consider the following facts:Manufacturing computers is materials intensive; the total fossil fuels used to make one desktop computer weigh over 240 kilograms, some 10 times the weight of the computer itself. This is very high compared to many other goods: For an automobile or refrigerator, for example, the weight of fossil fuels used for production is roughly equal to their weights.The Governor’s Executive Order 03-03 directed the Oregon Sustainability Board and certain state agencies to develop policies and practices to make Oregon a more sustainable state, consistent with and in furtherance of the goals regarding sustainability adopted by the Legislative Assembly in 2001.Results indicate that refurbishing one in ten computers reduces total energy use by 8.6 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively (by reducing demand for new machines).  In contrast, recycling the materials in one in ten computers only saves 0.43 percent (by replacing demand for virgin materials).  The difference is dramatic and suggests that extension of lifespan should receive real attention on the policy agenda addressing end-of-life computers.NextStep Recycling wants to support a healthy economy that conserves the environment and ensures equitable access to living wage jobs. The connections between economy, community, and environment are evident. Respectfully,Lorraine Kerwood Executive Director, NextStep Recycling ----------Jackie DingfelderDistrict 45, Portland900 Court St. NE, H-377Salem, OR 97301Re: House Bills 2395, 2626, and 541Dear Representative Dingfelder ,I'm writing to you today as a volunteer for NextStep Recycling in Eugene, OR.  NextStep Recycling encourages community members to ‘take the next step’ with their obsolete electronics and donate them to us to refurbish into usable computers that we gift to community members who do not have access to this technology. Our target populations are children and adults living in foster care, persons who experience disabilities, migrant worker families, persons living in poverty, family members leaving domestically violent relationships, under funded schools, and other nonprofits. NextStep also offers low cost refurbished technology through our reuse store. What is not refurbishable, our volunteers and staff dismantle and recycle with processors who meet our environmental stewardship standards. Since our inception in 2004 we have recycled over 700 tons of electronic scrap, refurbished over 10,000 computers and offered job and social skills training to hundreds of Lane County residents. To demonstrate the importance and need of our nonprofit organization, three years ago we occupied 525 sq. feet and were volunteers, and today we occupy 18,000 sq. ft, have 18 employees, 21 volunteer staff, have approximately 100 volunteer dismantlers, and work with 14 Lane County Master Recyclers.I've learned recently about House Bills 2395, 2626, and 541 and am encouraged by Oregon's efforts to address the issues surrounding e-waste disposal.  I also want to be sure that NextStep Recycling, and other organizations like ours, which provide a valuable service to the community, are taken into account when you draft this legislation. Studies show e-waste reuse uses less resources and benefits the community and environment over e-waste recycling.  In order for the legislation to support these aims, these bills would first need to focus on prioritizing the reuse of e-waste over recycling.  To this end, these bills should prioritize funding organizations and businesses which work to reuse e-waste, before funding organizations and businesses which recycle e-waste.  I would also like to ask that the legislation focus resources on educating the public on the importance of electronics recycling, as no legislation can be successful without an educated public.As an Oregon resident, I urge you to think of the points above when drafting HBs 2395, 2626, and 541.Thank you for your time,NextStep Volunteerhttp://www.nextsteprecycling.org

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