March 17, 2022

Whitehouse, Tillis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Address E-Waste National Security Threat, Grow Domestic Recycling Industry

E-waste exports clog up foreign landfills and provide raw materials for foreign-made counterfeit products

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) today reintroduced bipartisan legislation to stop the flow of electronic waste to China and other countries that counterfeit American technology. The Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) would ensure that electronic waste, or e-waste, does not become the source of counterfeit products that reenter military and civilian electronics in the United States. The legislation would also help grow the domestic recycling industry, keep jobs in the United States, and reduce unsafe disposal of e-waste abroad.

The legislation was included in the version of the COMPETES Act recently passed by the House of Representatives. The COMPETES Act is expected to go to conference with the Senate version of the legislation in the weeks ahead.

“Rapid improvements in technology are sending Americans cycling through smartphones, laptops, and televisions faster than ever,” said Senator Whitehouse. “We need to do a better job of keeping all that recyclable e-waste out of landfills and out of the hands of foreign counterfeiters. In addition to defending against a national security threat, our legislation would support the domestic recycling industry, create new jobs at home, and dispose of electronics in an environmentally friendly way.”

“The Chinese Communist Party’s works tirelessly to steal U.S. inventions and technology, and we should not make it easier for them by sending electronic waste abroad,” said Senator Tillis. “I am proud to co-introduce this commonsense bill to protect our national security and create jobs by growing the recycling industry here in the United States.”

The Senators’ bill fights counterfeiting by requiring domestic recycling of untested, nonworking e-waste. The legislation would provide a regulatory framework for creating a comprehensive national approach for the export of used electronics, bringing the United States in line with many Western nations. The bill allows for tested, working equipment to continue to be exported to promote reuse.

The legislation will help preserve recycling and repair jobs in the United States. Brokers exporting e-waste to developing nations undercut many responsible recyclers in America. Keeping the e-waste in the country ensures American recyclers get business. According to the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER), the bill is expected to help create up to 42,000 well-paying jobs for Americans in the e-waste industry.

“We thank Senator Whitehouse and Senator Tillis for their leadership in introducing this important legislation,” said Bob Houghton, CEO of Sage Sustainable Electronics and a founding member of the CAER, which includes more than 150 companies and supporting members operating roughly 300 facilities in 37 states as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. “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.”

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

Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921