HR 2284, the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2011, was introduced yesterday in the House by U.S. Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA). The measure would prohibit U.S. recyclers from dumping electronic waste on developing countries and to promote recycling jobs at home. The bill is supported by environmental groups as well as electronic manufacturers (Dell, HP, Samsung, Apple, and Best Buy), all of which already have policies that prohibit the export of e-waste to developing nations. The bill enjoys bipartisan support, including sponsors Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Lee Terry (R-NE).
Currently, electronic waste is exported to developing countries by many U.S recyclers, to be bashed, burned, flushed with acids, and melted down in unsafe conditions in developing countries. Eighty percent of children in Guiyu, China, a region where many "recycled" electronics wind up, have elevated levels of lead in their blood, due to the toxins in those electronics, much of which originates in the U.S. The plastics in the imported electronics are typically burned outdoors, which can emit deadly dioxin or furans, which are breathed in by workers and nearby residents.
According to Co-sponsor Rep. Green:
This bill accomplishes two things: first, it prevents hazardous material from being shipped where it will be mishandled and cause health and environmental damage; and second, it is a green jobs bill and will create work here in the U.S., processing these used products in safe ways. I applaud HP for leading on this issue and their responsible recycling.
In California, CAW-sponsored bill AB 960 by Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal will help reduce the amount of e-waste exported overseas from California by mandating that recyclers reform their exporting practices in order to receive payments.