We Threw Military Electronics in the Trash – China Sold Them Back to Us

Anne-Liese Heinichen

Why you should read it: Learn how e-waste threatens the US Military and how more stringent waste and recycling policies can reduce the threat posed by counterfeit electronics and pollution and decrease conflicts in war-torn countries.

ERAI Insight: While most of the industry is already aware of the impact that e-waste has had on the global electronics supply chain, the military has only recently started understanding the dangers posed by discarded electronics. Parts sent for “recycling” by consumers are winding up in China or Africa where they are mishandled and tampered with, blacktopped and resold back to the US as new parts. These counterfeit parts have been detected in Navy and Air Force aircraft and systems as well as in the THAAD missile defense system. Aside from reducing risk to US national security, the proper recycling of discarded electronic parts could also alleviate conflicts in war-torn African nations that produce the minerals (e.g. coltan, wolframite) necessary for the production of electronics. Along with enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act, extended producer responsibility laws and disposal bans in civilian policy are required to reduce the counterfeiting of electronic parts.