Environmental Protection

E-waste dumping in Ghana

Reps. Green and Thompson Introduce E-Waste Export Bill

U.S. Reps. Gene Green and Mike Thompson introduced the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2010 (pdf) on Sept. 29 to stop U.S. “recyclers” from dumping electronic waste on developing countries.

The bill is supported by environmental groups as well as electronic manufacturers Apple, Dell, and Samsung, all of which already have policies that prohibit the export of e-waste to developing nations.

“Policymakers, environmentalists and manufacturers worked together to forge an e-waste bill that is good for people, the environment and business,” said Kate Sinding, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This diverse support and cooperation shows that Americans want an e-waste law that does the right thing while also being economically sound.”

“This e-waste export bill will stem the tide of the toxic techno-trash sent from the U.S. to developing countries around the world,” said Barbara Kyle, coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, a national environmental coalition that promotes responsible recycling of e-waste.

The bill adds a new section to the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) laws establishing a new category of “restricted electronic waste” that cannot be exported from the United States to developing nations. Non-hazardous or tested and working electronic products or parts are not restricted. Other exemptions from the restrictions are:

  • products under warranty being returned to the manufacturing facility that made them;
  • products or parts being recalled; and
  • crushed cathode ray tube (CRT) glass cullet that is cleaned and fully prepared as feedstock into CRT glass manufacturing facilities

“This law has been a crying need now for eight years,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network, the organization that first revealed the global e-waste dumping crisis. “I have personally witnessed the horrors of US e-Waste dumped in the rice paddies of China and the swamps of Ghana and Nigeria. Outsourcing our jobs and poisons in this way is simply un-American and it has to stop."

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