American Recycler News, Inc.

 

Legislation threatens responsible recycling and American jobs, according to ISRI

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) called on Congress to support environmentally responsible recycling worldwide and to reject attempts to restrict legitimate trade of used electronic products (UEPs) with U.S. trade partners.

This follows the introduction of H.R. 2791 by Congressman Gene Green (TX-29). H.R. 2791 will negatively influence recycling efforts by undermining existing policies and initiatives, such as those proposed by the Obama Administration and the Interagency Task Force on Federal Electronics Stewardship, and will also violate international trade laws by unilaterally and arbitrarily banning exports.

“The recycling industry applauds the Coalition for American Electronics Reduction cycling (CAER) and Congressman Green for introducing legislation with the goal of advancing responsible electronics recycling, but like H.R. 2791’s predecessors, the bill is fatally flawed,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “This bill will do nothing to end irresponsible recycling, and further, will limit any opportunity to promote environmentally sound electronics recycling standards in other countries by perpetuating the outdated approach of identifying environmental risk based simply on geographic location rather than responsible operating practices.

“The determination of whether one can export UEPs to a given recycler or refurbisher should turn upon the basis of the receiving facilities’ qualifications to handle the material in an environmentally-sound and safe manner, not the arbitrary happenstance of whether the facility happens to be located in an OECD country, the EU or Lichtenstein.”

The best way to accomplish responsible recycling globally and job creation is through strict enforcement of current laws – domestic and international; restrictions on the export of unprocessed, non-working UEPs to any country for the purpose of recycling, reuse or refurbishment; a ban on the export of UEPs for disposal; and the promotion of global trade in tested, working UEPs for reuse and commodity grade e-scrap for recycling by industrial consumers worldwide.

“We support shutting down bad actors that refuse to recycle responsibly, but we fundamentally disagree with the approach of H.R. 2971 and do not believe that onerous regulations based on misinformation, as clearly stated in the U.S. ITC report, will address the problem,” said Lane Epperson, president and co-founder of HiTech Assets, Inc., an IT asset disposition provider in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Memphis, Tennessee.

A March 2013 report on the export of UEPs by the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as a recent green paper issued by the United Nations University, both discuss the significant positive changes in both U.S. and foreign practices involving electronics recycling and exports – including new recycling technologies, environmental, health and safety certification standards, and new regulations and greater enforcement – since the initial NGO anecdotes on the informal sector were released more than 10 years ago, and should have never been relied upon.

Unfortunately, H.R. 2791 does just that – it relies upon the false premise that up to 80 percent of UEPs collected in the U.S. are exported and dumped in non-OECD countries located outside the EU – a statistic unchanged and put forward by CAER and the Basel Action Network repeatedly before the earliest versions of H.R. 2791 were introduced back in 2009. In contrast, the ITC found that only 5.1 percent of all UEPs collected each year in the U.S. are currently at risk for improper recycling and disposal.

“The legislation relies on an outdated, disproven model that fails to reflect the reality of the present or future global market,” said Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist. “Moreover, supporters of this bill are trying to fabricate jobs out of a market that simply does not exist. In reality, H.R. 2791will actually reduce domestic competition and lead to job losses.”

According to the report, “Assessment of Efforts to Restrict the Trade of Electronic Scrap on Electronic Scrap Recycling Industry Jobs and Exports,” by John Dunham and Associates, many smaller firms would be forced out of business and workers let go should H.R. 2791 pass. As the findings state, a ban “will crowd out small existing businesses and inhibit the entry of newer businesses.”