Legislation to ban some forms of electronic waste, possibly including old cell phones, from being exported to foreign countries where health and safety laws are not as strict as in the United States is being promoted by some on Capitol Hill. The “Responsible Electronics Recycling Act”, as the legislation has been named, was sponsored back in September by Democrat representatives Gene Green from Texas, Mike Thompson from California and Ben Lujan from New Mexico, along with Republican John Carter from Texas. While the legislation, which would still allow some exporting to foreign countries but ban electrical equipment containing toxic chemicals from being sent, was unsuccessful by the end of the 110th Congress, plans are underway to introduce it again in the 111th Congress.
Thompson says that he is happy that many electronic manufacturers have already launched the “Billion Pound Challenge” plan to try and increase the amount of responsible electronic recycling in the United States. “I am pleased that major leaders in the consumer electronics industry are taking concrete action to address the e-waste crisis,” he admits. “While there’s been progress in the recycling of old electronics equipment, much more work needs to be done. The ‘Billion Pound Challenge’ will help accomplish our goals by making the electronics industry part of the solution to e-waste.” Thompson insists that the move shows a willingness to take responsibility on the part of the corporations. “This isn’t just smart environmental policy – it’s corporate responsibility and accountability at its finest,” he adds.