Congress Proposes Bill to Prohibit E-Waste Exports

Date: June 24, 2011

Source: News Room

New legislation introduced last week in Congress would prohibit the export of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) to developing countries where in many cases these items are recycled in such a fashion that poses a significant threat to human health and the environment. The Responsible Electronic Recycling Act, introduced in the House by reps. Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA), would create a new category of restricted e-waste that cannot be exported to India, China, Nigeria and other nations. In some cases, workers burn electronics in open pits as way to separate materials, children pick through hazardous materials, and hazardous materials are dumped next to rivers where they contaminate drinking water and ecological systems.

The proposed law establishes export restrictions that limit the conditions under which used electronics can be exported to developing countries and details exceptions for refurbishment, reuse, and product recalls, but stipulates that legitimate exporters will have to show proper documentation to demonstrate compliance. The bill also calls for the formation of recycling research programs that will seek cleaner and more effective ways of recycling rare earth elements and other materials from discarded electronics.

The bill which has bipartisan support, is also endorsed by a number of major hardware manufacturers-including HP, Dell, Samsung and Apple-who are already operating their own responsible recycling programs and no doubt would like to see other competitors do the same.

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