New Law Would Limit Exports of Electronic Waste

On July 23rd of this year, a bill prohibiting the exporting of electronic waste in order to avoid improper and dangerous disposal was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives.  H.R. 2791, The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2013 (RERA) is an amendment to The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) which already restricts the export of ‘restricted electronic waste’ from the United States to the European Union. (Restricted electronic waste is considered any electronics that may contain hazardous waste.)

RERA 2013 was introduced by U.S. Representative Gene Green (D-TX). The bill would require that electronic waste for recycling remain within the borders of the United States for processing and refining. This would require that all computer ‘scrap’ sales occur within the borders as well as all final milling and refining. It should be noted that the bill does make exceptions for equipment for refurbishing and resale, albeit with guidelines attached.

Electronic Waste Can Be Hazardous

Electronic waste contains many components that are considered hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency. Mercury, Boron, Cadmium, Arsenic, and Lead are just a few of the dangerous materials in electronic waste. When improperly disposed of, this hazardous waste can be leached into the ground, posing danger to the land, water, animals, and people.

Even improper recycling can lead to contamination. Some foreign countries that accept electronic waste for recycling have a track record of poor conditions and facilities for electronic waste and workers. This bill was introduced to keep American electronic waste stateside to eliminate our contribution to the poor conditions of some foreign recycling facilities. To read more about the bill and the bill itself, please visit http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/2791

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