Toxic Trade News / 1 October 2010
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Federal Legislation on E-Waste
Congress introduces bill to stop the global dumping of e-waste
ETBC Press Release
  United States Capitol  
1 October 2010 – On Sept 29, 2010, Reps. Gene Green and Mike Thompson introduced a bill in Congress to make it illegal for U.S. "recyclers" to send toxic e-waste to developing nations.

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.

This bill will allow exports of tested and working parts and products, as well as products under warranty, exported by the manufacturers, and products subject to recalls.

Promoting Responsible Recycling

Congressional Resolution H.Res. 938:

Leading by example in handling e-waste from Congress

A new resolution has been introduced in Congress, calling on congress to develop a plan for managing its own e-waste, which requires the use of recyclers certified to the new e-Stewards standards, which prohibit export of e-waste to developing nations or sending e-waste to prison recycling operations.

The bipartisan resolution was sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (CA) and co-sponsored by Rep Gene Green (D-TX), Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA).

The resolution, H.Res. 938, calls for Congress to establish and implement “a coordinated program for the reuse, recycling, and appropriate disposal of obsolete computers and other electronic equipment used by offices of the legislative branch using only those companies independently certified as meeting the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment, which forbids the export of e-waste to developing countries and use of prison labor.”

The e-Steward was developed by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a partner organization in the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. It is the highest standard in the industry, and the only standard that does not permit the export of e-waste to developing nations. For several years, BAN has operated a "Pledge" program, where recyclers would pledge to follow high standards voluntarily. BAN has taken the core principles of this pledge and developed it into a comprehensive standard, and has added an accredited certification program.

More information on the e-Steward program.

Export legislation

We are hopeful that Congress will introduce strong legislation to ban the export of toxic e-waste from the US to developing countries. This would be an historic step in bringing the US in line with the rest of the countries in the "developed" world, who have agreed to stop dumping their toxic e-waste on poor countries around the globe.

Legislation on E-Waste Research and Development

HR 1580: Electronic Waste Research and Development Act

Status: Passed House. Companion bill, S 1397 (Klobuchar) was introduced in Senate, assigned to EPW Committee.

Rep Bart Gordon introduced HR 1580, which:

  • Authorizes the EPA to award grants for electronic waste reduction research, development, and demonstration projects. Grants will be awarded to educational institutions, working with industry, to conduct research to create innovative and practical approaches to reduce the volume and manage the environmental impacts of electronic waste

  • Asks the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on how we can reduce the volume of electronic waste, specifically addressing

    • (i) recycling or safe disposal of electronic waste and low value materials recovered from such waste;

    • (ii) designing electronic devices to facilitate re-use and recycling; and

    • (iii) the re-use of electronic devices; and (B) making electronic devices safer and more environmentally friendly, specifically addressing reducing the use of hazardous materials and potentially hazardous materials in electronic devices;

    • the risks posed by disposal of electronic waste; and

    • the current status of research and training programs to promote the environmental design of electronic devices to reduce electronic waste.

  • Awards grants to higher education institutions to develop curriculum on environmental design for electronics

House Science Committee E-Waste Hearings

The House Committee on Science and Technology has held two hearings on this issue.

Hearing on February 11, 2009 - Hearing info, topics, witness list.

Hearing on April 30, 2008. Link to testimony from the panel from last year's hearings. Ted Smith, ETBC Chair, testified before the Committee, along with representatives from industry and academia.

Congressional Work on a National Takeback and Recycling Program.

There is currently no federal legislation pending to establish a federal takeback program.

Click here to learn more.

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