- The U.S. government is considering adding a "used electronics" category to the automated export system used to track shipping data, as reported by Resource Recycling.
- This was proposed in March by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is also in charge of tabulating import and export data. The agency is still accepting feedback as it considers the change.
- If adopted, the change would create an annual export figure released by the Census Bureau. Company names and device destinations would not be listed.
The lack of uniform federal data on e-waste exports has led to a range of claims about the size, value and safety of the market. Over the summer, the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act was introduced in the House to limit the export of certain categories of material due to concerns over counterfeit parts. The nonprofit Basel Action Network (BAN) has also called on President Obama to sign an executive order preventing the export of U.S. government e-waste.
The scrap industry generally opposes many of these measures to limit exports. Though so far this new data proposal has received some support, possibly due to the clarity it could help bring. In its proposal, the Census Bureau stated that its goal was to "encourage the employment of environmentally sound practices with respect to disposal of all excess or surplus electronic products in order to reduce the likelihood of negative impacts to the health and environment in developing countries."
Though the data still wouldn't show export destinations, it would help clarify the conversation about how much material is being shipped. For companies that have pushed back on claims by BAN and others about their use of unsafe recycling facilities overseas, more information could be welcome.