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The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act could bring 42,000 new jobs

The U.S. has less than sterling a record when it comes to the proper disposal of electronic waste or e-waste. The volume of e-waste generated from old computers, monitors, cell phones, TV sets on a worldwide basis is staggering.

A Chinese child sits in a pile of wires and e-trash in Guiyu in Guangzhou province, China,
Greenpeace/Natalie Behring

A recent report by the Electronic TakeBack Coalition puts the figures of e-waste generated in the U.S. during 2011 at 2.4 million tons, only 27 percent of which was properly disposed of.

The balance of e-waste is dumped on poor and developing nations where it is crudely dismantled in primitive conditions without protections for the workers or the environment. Electronic scrap contains high concentrations of toxic materials including lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, beryllium, cobalt, arsenic.

Representatives Gene Green of Texas and Mike Thompson of California hope to something about overseas dumping. They have reintroduced a new federal bill, H.R. 2791, otherwise known as the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA) of 2013.

The bill has bipartisan support in the House and Senate along with support from the recycling industry, computer manufacturers Hewlett Packard, Dell, Apple, Samsung, and big box retailers like Best Buys. The Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER), comprised of more than 100 companies has been working for the passage of this kind of legislation for several years.

Earth 911 recently reported on a new study projecting that the passage of the RERA could bring as many as 42,000 new re-cycling jobs at a time when the nation's economy could use them.

For more information about properly recycling electronics visit the Atlanta Recycling Center or TreeHugger.

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