The U.S. House has introduced an electronic waste recycling bill prohibiting the exporting of some e-waste to avoid improper disposal.
H.R. 2791, the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2013 (RERA), would create a new section in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that prohibits the export of “restricted electronic waste” from the United States to countries that are not members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the European Union (EU). Restricted electronic equipment means any equipment that contains specific toxic materials at levels greater than those considered non-hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to a news release from the House of Representatives.
The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (California) and Gene Green (Texas).
With the bill, tested and working equipment could still be exported for reuse. Products also still could be exported for warranty repair or because of recall.
In addition, the proposed legislation would create a research program at the Department of Energy to help evaluate the recycling and recovery of rare earth metals from electronics.
The bill is consistent with e-waste policies adopted in international treaties such as the Basel Convention.
“Each year, millions of tons of e-waste are discarded in the U.S. and shipped to developing nations for unsafe salvage and recovery,” Thompson said. “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.”
The legislation is supported by the electronics industry, including official backing from Hewlett Packard, Dell, Apple, Samsung and Best Buy. It is also supported by the recycling industry, including the Coalition For American Electronics Recyclers (CAER).
“This is the most important step our federal government can take to solve the e-waste problem – to close the door on e-waste dumping on developing countries,” said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.
“By requiring responsible recycling of electronic scrap within our borders, RERA will create valuable recycling jobs that add significant economic value,” said Steve Skurnac, president of Sims Recycling Solutions.