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What is the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA)?

A bill under consideration in the U.S. House of Representatives called the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) would require all e-waste recycling to be performed domestically and prevent the export of e-waste overseas, which could lead to counterfeit goods reentering the military and civilian electronics in the country, according to the bill’s sponsors.

SEERA, introduced by Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) and Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), seeks to stop the flow of electronic waste to China and other countries known for producing counterfeit electronic parts using the recycled material.

Risks of Exporting E-Waste

E-waste dumping drives the counterfeit electronics components industry, says Kristal Snider, co-founder of Electronic Resellers Association International. It “kills small businesses, threatens national security and funds criminal organizations, all of which are taking an enormous toll on the global economy and human safety,” she says.

Electronic waste, as defined by the bill, includes:

  • Computers and related equipment;
  • Data center equipment, including servers, network equipment and firewalls;
  • Mobile computers, including notebooks, tablets and e-book readers;
  • Televisions, including portable televisions and portable DVD players;
  • Video display devices, such as monitors, digital picture frames and portable video devices;
  • Digital imaging devices, including printers, copiers and FAX machines;
  • Consumer electronics, from digital camera and cellphones to video game systems and cable and satellite receivers.

In addition to the national security issues, improperly disposing of e-waste is environmentally dangerous due to the toxic materials in the discarded devices, such as lead, cadmium and mercury, according to a U.S. News & World Report article. These toxic materials can seep into the soil and groundwater, contaminate the air if burned, or poison people handling them, the article says.

What Happens if the Bill Passes?

SEERA would require domestic recycling of all untested, nonworking electronics, Rep. Green says in a press release. Export of tested working equipment will continue, according to the bill, and Customs and Border Protection would be authorized to inspect shipments of electronic products intended for export and would stop the shipment and hold the shipper accountable.

“(SEERA) will help ensure our servicemen and women have reliable technology to protect our country and create thousands of jobs in Texas and recycling facilities around the country,” Rep. Green said.

The bill has received praised from industry associations including the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling.

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