E-Waste Legislation

H.R. 4521 - The America COMPETES Act of 2022

Bill Summary

Along with providing funding for the domestic production of semiconductors, the bill includes a prohibition on e-waste exports. The e-waste section in the bill mirrors language of H.R.3559 – Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act (SEERA) which aims to combat climate change and enhance national security and bolster the US economy by requiring domestic recycling.
According to the Act, “as the second largest producer of electronic waste, the United States has a strong economic and national security incentive to enhance domestic e-waste recycling capacity rather than exporting to China and other countries…It is in the national security interests of the United States to ensure that the export of electronic waste does not become the source of counterfeit goods that may reenter electronics supply chains in the United States.”

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H.R.3559 – Secure E-waste Export and Recycling Act

Bill Summary

The purpose of the bill is to control the export of electronic waste in order to ensure that such waste does not become the source of counterfeit goods that may reenter military and civilian electronics supply chains in the United States, and for other purposes.

The bill would prohibit the export of e-waste with the following exceptions:
  • The person or entity is listed in a publicly available registry,
  • For each export transaction, the person files specified details to the Automated Export System,
  • Compliance with existing laws,
  • Export declarations and other requirements.
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H.R.917 - Secure E-Waste Export and Recycling Act

Bill Summary

This bill prohibits any person from exporting or reexporting electronic waste (specified items containing electronic components or fragments, including computers, televisions, video display devices, and consumer electronics) or exempted electronic waste items (tested, working used electronics, low-risk counterfeit electronics, or recalled electronics), except as specified.

"Low-risk counterfeit electronics" means electronic components or items that: (1) have been subjected to destruction processes that render the items unusable for their original purpose; and (2) are exported as a feedstock, with no additional mechanical or hand separation required, in a reclamation process to render the components or items recycled consistent with the laws of the foreign country performing such process.

A person may export or reexport exempted electronic waste items only if:

  • the person is listed on a publicly available registry maintained by the Department of Commerce;
  • for each export transaction, the person files specified electronic export information in the Automated Export System;
  • the export or reexport of exempted electronic waste items otherwise complies with applicable international agreements and other U.S. trade laws; and
  • the exempted items are accompanied by certain required documentation.
Commerce may provide exceptions to the requirements of this bill under specified circumstances for exports or reexports of five items or fewer per transaction of electronic components intended for personal use, and of electronic components to a person or entity under the ownership or control of the person exporting or reexporting the components, with the intent that they be used for the purpose for which they were used in the United States.

Any violator of this bill or regulations issued under it shall be subject to the same penalties as those applicable to violators of any other provision of the Export Administration Regulations.

Why is this bill important?

Counterfeit microchips, primarily from China, threaten the reliability of a wide range of technology essential to daily life – and our national security. Experts say fake electronic components can be found in everything from the airbags in our cars to our critical domestic infrastructure and even our military hardware. A Senate Armed Services Committee study determined that counterfeit chips are pervasive in fighter jets, missile guidance systems, submarines, helicopters and more, concluding “there is no way to predict how well they will perform, how long they will last, and the full impact of failure.”

Counterfeiters often start by stripping used microchips from e-waste – much of it legally exported from the United States. Counterfeiters rely on our exports because the U.S. is the world’s largest producer of e-waste and one of the few countries that allow unrestricted exports of untested, nonworking e-scrap. SEERA combats counterfeiters by requiring domestic recycling of untested, nonworking e-waste. By processing and securing e-scrap here, we will keep it out of the hands of counterfeiters in China and around the world.

What this bill does:

Amends existing Export Administration Regulations by designating nonworking/ non-tested used electronic items (based on a list of common electronic products or fragments of products that contain circuitry) as “Electronic Waste” which cannot be exported outside of the U.S. unless certain specific conditions are met.

What you can do support SEERA:

Congress needs to act by the end of the year when the current session concludes. Nothing is more persuasive for Congressional offices than hearing from their constituents. Right now it is especially critical that we show support to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – your voice can make a difference. Show your support by writing a letter of support to Congress.