Federal Legislation and Policy on E-Waste
Congressional bill to stop the global dumping of e-waste
In 2011, Congress introduced the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA). This bill did not pass, but the bill sponsors will reintroduce it in the new Congress.
The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2011 would make it illegal to send toxic e-waste to developing nations. The bill had bi-partisan sponsorship in both the House and Senate. H.R. 2284 was introduced in the House by Representatives – Gene Green (TX), Mike Thompson (CA), Steve LaTourette (OH), and Lee Terry (NE), and S.1270, was introduced on in the Senate by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Sherrod Brown (OH) and Lisa Murkowski (AK).
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. HP has publicly challenged other companies to join them in supporting the legislation.
It is also supported by a new and growing business coalition, called the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER). This coalition now includes 87 companies operating over 165 facilities in 34 states. Its membership includes Waste Management, Sims Recycling Solutions (the largest electronics recycler in the world), Covanta, and Alcoa).
It’s a common practice for “recyclers” to export electronic products from the U.S. to developing countries, where the toxics inside cause great harm. Chips from obsolete electronics sent to China have become a primary source for counterfeiters, who make cosmetic changes then sell them as “military grade” into the U.S. defense industry supply chain, creating potential national security problems and failure risks.
This bill restricts the export of electronics containing certain toxic chemicals to developing countries. It would still allow exports of tested and working parts and products, as well as products or components under warranty, exported by the manufacturers for warranty repairs, and products subject to recalls.
- Summary of HR 2284/S1270
- Text of The Responsible Electronic Recycling Act of 2011, HR 2284/S1270
- ETBC press release
- HP’s statement of support of HR 2284
- FAQ on Global E-Waste Dumping
- E-Waste Export Briefing Book – Learn more about the problems that this bill is meant to address.
- Fact sheet on counterfeit chip problem, linked to exporting U.S. e-waste
- Section-by-section analysis of Responsible Electronics Recycling Act – HR 2284/S1270
Congressional Work on a National Takeback and Recycling Program.
There is currently no federal legislation pending to establish a federal takeback program.
Information on federal administrative policies on e-waste is here.