Gene Green has earned his surname. The House Rep. has joined forces with Rep. Mike Thompson in an effort to pass the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (H.R. 2284), legislation that would put some much-needed restrictions on e-waste that flows out of the U.S. and into developing nations.
Specifically, the Act adds a new section – “Electronic Waste Export Restrictions” – to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (42 U.S.C. §6901 et seq.) that prohibits the export of certain discarded/used/broken/toxic electronics to countries such as China and India for salvage and recovery. Two GAO reports published in 2008 (here and here) determined that most of these countries “lack the capacity to safely handle and dispose of them.”
If passed, the Act would also establish a Rare Earth Materials Recycling Research Initiative “to assist in and coordinate the development of research in the recycling of rare earth materials found in electronic devices.” (The more we can recycle the better – pickins are slim!)
H.R. 2284 was introduced into Congress late last month, and while an earlier version of the bill had trouble gaining traction during the last Congressional session (it was introduced as H.R. 6252 on September 29, 2010 and referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, but never made it further than that), bipartisan support has grown for the bill this time around, and it is expected to pass. It’s even being backed by corporate big-wigs such as HP, Dell, and Apple.