The Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA)
Unlike all other developed countries, the U.S. lacks a national policy on e-waste exports. In addition, the U.S. is one of a handful of countries that have not signed the Basel Convention, a global treaty that restricts exports of e-waste because it contains hazardous materials.
The Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) will address the environmental and security issues that e-waste exports create. SEERA will restrict export of untested, non-working electronic scrap that too often ends up in the developing countries where it fuels counterfeiting and damages the environment.
By requiring domestic processing of America’s e-scrap, we will ensure it is processed to high standards that protect the environment and workers.
Equally important, we will choke off the flow of exports that fuel an illicit counterfeit trade that undermines the reliability of essential technology used in everything from military hardware and critical infrastructure to healthcare technology and airbags.
MYTH: SEERA will create a total ban on export of used electronics from the U.S.
FACT: Tested, working used electronics can be exported anywhere in the world for reuse, so long as they are packaged to ensure they continue to work properly. The legislation includes exemptions for materials considered low risk because they are unlikely to be used by counterfeiters. For instance, e-scrap that has been shredded or demanufactured may be exported for use as feedstock for smelters and other recycling processes.
MYTH: SEERA does not comply with international trade laws.
FACT: The approach embodied in SEERA conforms to OECD standards and parallels the Basel Convention, a treaty ratified by 180 countries including many WTO members. Nearly every country around the world is party to this treaty that restricts exports of hazardous non-working e-waste to developing countries. As a result, it’s difficult to foresee any country filing a WTO objection.
MYTH: SEERA isn't needed because only a small amount of e-waste is exported.
FACT: A 2016 study by the Basel Action Network (BAN) placed GPS trackers in old electronics and determined that about 40 percent of U.S. e-waste is exported with 93 percent going to the developing world. The United States generated a total of 6.9 million tons of e-waste. Based on the BAN study, more than 2.5 million tons of e-waste were exported to developing countries in 2016.
MYTH: By limiting exports, SEERA will reduce American jobs.
FACT: By better controlling export of this hazardous waste, business owners will have incentives to invest in capital equipment and employees to process, refurbish and manage e-waste here in the United States. A study conducted by DSM Environmental Services for the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling found that the shift to domestic recycling would create 42,000 jobs for Americans.
By comparison, e-waste exporters are typically small “pack and stack” operations that create few jobs. U.S. electronics recyclers who do it the right way create at least seven jobs in for every job in the export industry. In addition, SEERA will create opportunities for current exporters who convert their operations to serve the domestic recycling industry.
MYTH: SEERA represents protectionist trade policy.
FACT: Our country has historically restricted the trade of products/information that pose a threat to national security, as well as hazardous waste. That's all this bill will do.
MYTH: The U.S. e-recycling industry lacks the capacity to process America's untested, nonworking e-waste as required under SEERA.
FACT: Under SEERA, U.S. recyclers will have more incentive to invest in capital improvements and expanded hiring to processs, refurbish and manage e-waste domestically.