Recently in a Congressional briefing, Congressman Ted Poe addressed the need for setting up a more stringent e-Waste export policy. At the meeting, Tom Sharpe, Vice President at SMT Corporation, noted startlingly facts from a study that was created by the US Senate Armed Services Committee. The report exposed how the global e-Waste trade could be more harmful than you think. The study found 1,800 cases of counterfeit parts in military technology. The report identified that many of the parts came from China. The counterfeit parts were also discovered in medical devices, such as intravenous drip machines, automated external defibrillators, airport lighting systems, and braking systems for trains. If any of these devices backfire the effects could be deadly.
A similar investigation was recently conducted by the Basel Action Network (BAN). They added GPS devices to non-functional electronic equipment. Then BAN submitted the equipment to recyclers, drop-off centers, and even the thrift chain store, Goodwill. The investigation exposed that Goodwill, along with several other organizations were part of the illegal e-Waste trade. A lot of the tracked equipment ended up in China as well. In the BAN investigation, “recyclers” explained the shift in cost for recycling some technology was too costly for them to turn a profit. The only way these phony recyclers could make money was by shipping it overseas.
As a solution, The Coalition for America Electronics Recycling (CAER) is proposing that legislation halts exports of e-Waste. CAER is pushing for the Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) to pass. The Act would improve the traceability of the nonworking electronics. It will also allow Customs and Border Protection to search shipments and stop the shipper. Overall it would hold the shipper accountable for illegally exporting the equipment.