Lawmakers table bill to tackle counterfeit electronics

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the US Senate that is designed to curb the trade in counterfeit electronics – by stopping the flow of waste products to China and other countries.

The Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) – introduced Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (Democrat-Rhode Island) and Thom Tillis (Republican-North Carolina) – "would ensure that electronic waste, or e-waste, does not become the source of counterfeit products that re-enter military and civilian electronics in the US," according to the proposed legislation.

SEERA would require domestic recycling of all untested, nonworking electronics from the US to end the flow of e-waste to counterfeiters and data thieves who could use the material to undermine national security. It allows for tested, working equipment to continue to be exported to promote reuse.

Whiteouse said the legislation will help preserve recycling and repair jobs in the US, as brokers exporting e-waste to developing nations undercut responsible recyclers in America.

Keeping the e-waste in the country ensures American recyclers get business and – according to the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) – the bill could create up to 42,000 well-paying jobs for Americans in the e-waste industry.

A United Nations report found that only 20 per cent of global e-waste is properly recycled.

“Through swift passage of SEERA, the Senate can combat counterfeiters who undermine our national security while ensuring electronic scrap is managed in an environmentally responsible way,” commented Bob Houghton, chief executive of Sage Sustainable Electronics and a founding member of CAER.

The legislation was included in the version of the COMPETES Act, which was passed last month by the House of Representatives.

The COMPETES Act is expected to go to conference with the Senate version of the legislation in the coming weeks.

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