Newly introduced federal bill would limit e-waste exports
- Representatives Paul Cook (CA) and Gene Green (TX) have introduced the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) in an effort to reduce the export of used electronics.
- Scrap material for recycling and functional devices would still be allowed. SEERA's aim is to prevent the use of parts from intact, non-functional devices in counterfeit goods.
- While the bill has received some bipartisan support, its approach has been opposed in the past by groups such as the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) which favor an open flow of material.
Currently the Environmental Protection Agency only regulates the export of CRT devices. If passed, this bill would be the first federal law to limit the export of computers, TVs, tablets, and phones. Rep. Green introduced a similar bill called the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act in 2013, but it never received a hearing.
While some in the industry don't want to see the market stifled, federal officials have framed this as an issue of national security and say that unreliable counterfeit parts can be especially dangerous in military equipment. According to the Senate's Armed Services Committee, more than 1 million counterfeit parts were found in critical defense systems in 2009 and 2010. As a result, SEERA has been referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
E-waste exports have been a hot topic lately, due in part to the nonprofit Basel Action Network's (BAN) ongoing efforts to track the destination of certain items shipped overseas by U.S. recyclers. Some companies — such as Seattle-based Total Reclaim — have admitted they sent items to unregulated facilities, but others have disputed BAN's findings and said they're not at fault.
- Resource Recycling Federal bill introduced to curb e-scrap exports
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