Standing at one of Westchester County’s largest electronic waste recycling facilities, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced legislation to promote domestic recycling of electronic waste. The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act would grow the domestic electronic recycling industry by limiting the export of electronic waste to countries that disregard the environmental impacts of their practices and exploit their workers. While many countries have laws in place to address e-waste management and disposal, the U.S. lacks a comprehensive strategy to confront exportation concerns and ramp up domestic recycling operations.
“This legislation will crack down on the reckless handling of electronic waste overseas, boost responsible domestic e-waste recycling at facilities like WeRecycle!, and protect Americans from fraudulent schemes that threaten national security,” said Senator Gillibrand. “With more and more electronic waste generated every year, it is critical that we support domestic facilities that dispose of it properly. By limiting exports of electronic waste we can bring good-paying green-collar jobs back to the U.S., and ensure that countries like China and India don’t benefit from their dangerous and abusive practices.”
Congressman Eliot Engel, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “The waste from computers and other electronic devices – E-waste – is growing at nearly triple the rate of municipal waste. Facilities such as WeRecycle! practice responsible recycling and prevent the stew of toxic chemicals found in these electronics from damaging the health of workers, communities and the environment. I applaud them and this legislation.”
Virgil M. Fisher, CEO at WeRecycle!, said, “Recycling electronics here at home creates seven jobs for every job created through the reckless export of electronics to developing countries. For this reason, WeRecycle! enthusiastically supports The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act.”
The legislation addresses health, environmental and national security concerns by amending the Solid Waste Disposal Act of 1965 to prohibit the export of restricted electronic waste to developing countries, establish criminal penalties for knowingly exporting restricted electronic waste, and increase Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversight of electronic waste handling and disposal. The bill would also curb fraudulent labeling of refurbished electronics that poses a threat to our national security. In 2010, Business Week reported that used computer chips are re-marked in China as “military grade” chips and sold to U.S. military suppliers. In addition, the bill would create the Rare Earth Materials Recycling Research Initiative at the Department of Energy (DOE) to coordinate research into the recovery of rare earth materials that are critical for electronics manufacturing.
The bill has been officially supported by influential electronics companies such as Hewlett Packard, Dell, Apple, Samsung and Best Buy, as well as several environmental groups like the Environmental Technology Council, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and the BlueGreen Alliance.
WeRecycle!, an electronic waste recycling facility in Mt. Vernon, New York, uses environmentally sound management and recycling methods and adheres to globally-accepted best practices. They work to conserve natural resources, protect their workers, and limit environmental and public health threats. A completely domestic operation, WeRecyle! never exports waste abroad and complies with both state and federal regulations, ensuring data security and transparency.