Everything you need to know about the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA)

The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA) was reintroduced into Congress on July 24 with bipartisan support. The legislation seeks to prohibit the exportation of untested and nonfunctional electronics to developing nations where improper disposal may create environmental, health or national security risks.

Restrictions on e-waste exports could create up to 42,000 new jobs with a total payroll of more than $1 billion, according to a study by the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling. The U.S. International Trade Committee also reported that the RERA would help increase U.S. exports and create jobs.

Electronic waste like cell phones, computers and TVs are now the fastest growing waste stream in the U.S, with more than 3.4 million tons being generated each year according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Unfortunately, it is common practice for “recyclers” like Executive Recycling to export electronics to developing countries. The Government Accountability Office reported that many developing nations do not have the resources to safely recycle and dispose of used electronics. Improper recycling can have catastrophic effects on the environment and the health of residents.

If enacted, the RERA would create a new section in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that prohibits the export of restricted electronic waste from the U.S. to countries that are not members of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development or the European Union. Restricted electronic equipment is defined as those that are not fully functional, have not been tested or contain toxic materials at levels greater than those specified as non-hazardous by the EPA. The legislation will allow the exportation of:

  • Tested and working parts and devices for reuse
  • Processed and cleaned CRT glass being exported to a CRT glass manufacturing plant, in countries that allow it
  • Warranty repairs
  • Product recalls
  • Products containing toxins below the hazardous level

Exporting e-waste to places like China can also create national security risks. Chips from exported electronics have become a primary resource for counterfeiters, who sell them as “military grade” into the U.S. defense supply chain, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

RERA also seeks to establish a research program at the Department of Energy to study the recycling and recovery of rare Earth metals from electronics. This will help to ensure the proper collection and recycling of precious metals.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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