ISRI Outlines the Case against Export Controls

ISRI Outlines the Case against Export Controls at the Washington Council of Governments


For Immediate Release
January 19, 2012


Eric Harris of ISRI urges defeat of HR 2284 / S1270 (The Responsible Recycling Act) to keep the growing e-scrap industry strong.


Washington, D.C. – The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has long promoted safe and environmentally responsible recycling around the world and advocated for the free and fair trade of recyclable materials.  Today, they took the case to the Washington Council of Governments where ISRI’s Associate Counsel and Director of Government and International Affairs, Eric Harris, detailed the results of the most comprehensive, definitive and exhaustive study of a relatively young industry and urged the defeat of export control legislation that would cut jobs and damage both the economy and the environment.

The study, conducted by the International Data Corporation (IDC), shows that the U.S. electronics recycling industry has grown tremendously in the past decade to become a bright spot in an otherwise sluggish economy.  The study shows that approximately 3.5 million tons of electronics were recycled by the recycling industry in the United States in 2010, an industry that employs more than 30,000 workers with estimated revenues of over $5 billion.

“This survey shows a booming electronics recycling industry and prescribes a clear path for even more growth,” said Harris. “Electronics recyclers are creating American jobs, adopting an industry standard that will help sustain growth and are recycling electronics here at home.”

Harris told the audience that given the tremendous growth of the U.S. electronics recycling industry, recyclers and consumers increasingly are demanding downstream accountability, data security and legal compliance domestically and abroad. An increase in third-party audited, comprehensive, premium recycling standards like R2/RIOS™ are expected to increase and will help recyclers’ accountability, health and safety and bottom line.

Harris expressed concern that this growth would come to an abrupt halt if export control legislation known as the “Responsible Recycling Act (HR 2284 / S1270)” would ever come into effect.  The legislation would put an end to the free, fair and legal trade of these materials and by doing so establish an arbitrary line around countries and peoples, while doing nothing to promote environmentally sustainable practices where they are needed most.   Furthermore, the legislation actually encourages the continued production of what those who support it have dubbed “dangerous toxic and hazardous substances” by handsomely rewarding the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who use these substances with a legislative carve-out while criminalizing the same activity if carried out by a recycler.

The need for this misguided legislation is further undermined by the IDC study results that show of the more than 3.5 million tons of used and end-of-life electronics collected in the United States, 70% by weight is processed in the United States and sold at home or in the global marketplace as commodity grade scrap, such as steel, aluminum, copper, precious metals recovered from circuit boards, glass and plastics. Ten percent is resold as functioning equipment and components for direct resell, and less than 18 percent is resold as equipment and components for further repair and refurbishment.

Harris reiterated ISRI’s commitment to challenging OEMs to minimize the amount of toxic and hazardous substances they use in their products so that they can be recycled safely, responsibly and legally anywhere in the world, in a manner that protects worker health and safety and urged others to join the fight.

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