A bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week would make it illegal to export toxic e-waste to developing nations. According to electronicstakeback.com, HR 2791 (Responsible Electronics Recycling Act) has bipartisan support, with California Congressman Michael Thompson and Texas Congressman Gene Green joined by one other democrat and three republicans in introducing the bill.
The bill is supported by a large coalition of recyclers with over 100 companies called CAER - the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling. CAER did a study that shows that the bill could create 42,000 jobs. The primary opponent to similiar measures in the past has been the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), the recycling industry's trade association.
The bill doesn’t restrict the export of all electronics, tested and working electronics may still be exported. However, it focuses on a common practice of certain recyclers, who export electronics to developing countries rather than recycling them in the US. The toxics inside those electronics cause health risks to citizens and harm the environment; microchips are often removed and resold by counterfeiters.
"Each year, millions of tons of e-waste are discarded in the U.S. and shipped to developing nations for unsafe salvage and recovery," said Thompson in a press release. "By carefully regulating the export of e-waste, this bipartisan legislation creates good-paying recycling jobs here in the U.S., while taking concrete steps to address a growing environmental and health crisis."
California’s Electronic Waste Recovery Act leads the nation in curbing the illegal disposal and export of e-waste by providing incentives to recycle covered electronics in-state. However, the 24 other states with e-waste laws cannot restrict export so the only way to ensure that this practice is curtailed is through federal legislation.
Legislation that would further expand the market for recycled e-waste in California has already passed off the Assembly floor and is making its way through the Senate. AB 1022 (Eggman) provides incentives for recyclers to remove the lead from CRT glass, and also provides payments to manufacturers who use the cleaned CRT glass in their products instead of other materials.