A bill that would limit e-waste exports has been introduced in the US House of Representatives.
HR 5579, the Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA), would stop the flow of e-waste to China and other counties and encourage responsible electronics recycling, according to the bill’s authors Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA). Scrap material for recycling and functional devices would still be allowed, Waste Dive reports.
SEERA would require domestic recycling of all untested, nonworking electronics. In addition to better managing e-waste, this would also keep used electronics “out the hands of counterfeiters and data thieves,” according to a press release.
A 2012 Senate Armed Services Committee study found 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts in military technology.
The EPA estimates e-waste is growing at a rate of two to three times faster than any other regulated waste stream. There is currently no federal law that prohibits exporting e-waste and mandates safe disposal and recycling of electronics. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia, however, have e-recycling laws on the books.
“E-waste is the fast growing segment of our domestic waste stream,” Green said in a statement. “This problem will continue to grow unless Congress acts to ensure that electronic waste is recycled responsibly in the United States and out of the hands of counterfeiters overseas.”
In May, a report by watchdog organization Basel Action Network (BAN) accused Dell of exporting e-waste, in violation of its own policies.
The report, Disconnect: Goodwill and Dell Exporting the Public’s E-waste to Developing Countries, is the first to be published as part of BAN’s e-Trash Transparency Project. The project placed GPS tracking devices into old hazardous electronic equipment such as printers and computer monitors.
It found that instead of being recycled, 65 (32.5 percent) of these devices were exported overseas on container ships.
At the time, Dell told Environmental Leader Dell is was investigating claims that it exported e-waste. “We applaud efforts to address the complex challenges of electronic recycling,” said Dell spokesperson Carly Tatum in an email.