Leaders Praise Intro of Responsible Electronics Recycling Act


Washington, DC – The Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) today encouraged swift passage of the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA), introduced today as HR 2791 in the 113th Congress by U.S. Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).Reflecting the bill’s bipartisan support, RERA is being supported by Representatives from both parties, including three Republican co-sponsors: Reps. Mike Coffman (R-CO), Steve Stivers (R-OH) and Mike McCaul (R-TX) in addition to three Democrats: Reps. Green, Thompson and Louise Slaughter (D-NY).
Coalition leaders said RERA is essential for creating U.S. jobs and promoting investment in the domestic recycling industry. By requiring domestic recycling, RERA may create up to 42,000 new jobs with an annual payroll of up to $1 billion, according to a recent CAER study.
Exports of toxic electronic scrap will be prohibited and will need to be responsibly recycled within U.S. borders. Trade in tested, working electronics will remain unrestricted and is expected to grow. According to a U.S. ITC study, “exports of commodity-grade material would likely increase, as more recycling activity would take place in the United States” and commodities derived from used electronics “would be exported to manufacturing centers in non-OECD countries.”
Electronic scrap contains high concentrations of toxic materials such as lead and cadmium and is classified as hazardous by the U.S. EPA and many states. However, a large percentage of e-waste collected for “recycling” is actually exported to developing countries where it is dismantled in primitive conditions without environmental protections and worker safeguards.
Restricting e-waste exports under RERA will reduce data security risks such as hard drives containing sensitive defense-related information. Because companies collecting used electronics too often dump the equipment without erasing the data, exports have caused data breaches, identity theft, and cyber crime. In one case, a hard drive from a U.S. defense contractor containing sensitive information was found at a Third World e-waste dump. Exported electronic scrap has been shown to be a source of counterfeit components turning up in critical applications such as military and industrial hardware. RERA will close these security gaps.
The legislation has strong business support in addition to CAER, including wide range of groups representing electronics manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Apple, Samsung and major retailers such as Best Buy.
“CAER supports the export of tested, working electronics and recycled commodities around the world, which encourages economic development and job growth in the U.S. and contributes to our domestic economy,” said Bob Houghton of the CAER steering committee. “Developing nations can still get access to valuable, clean commodities, without absorbing the hazardous materials they had no part in creating.”
RERA will address current government policies that distort the marketplace and prevent U.S. companies from meeting market demand for responsible, domestic recycling services. “Once RERA becomes law, American recyclers can rationalize investments in plant and personnel essential to providing services people and businesses want,” said Wendy Neu of Hugo Neu and a CAER steering committee member. “CAER members across the country, from small startups to large companies, are energized and engaged to speak out on this important issue.”