Take Responsibility for E-Waste: Stop Shipping it to Impoverished Communities Overseas

Target: The United States House of Representatives

Goal: Pass legislation to prevent dangerous electronic waste from being shipped to overseas processing centers, which lack the resources to handle it properly.

Electronic waste, or e-waste, is difficult and expensive to recycle, but it is essential that it be disposed of properly. According to the Electronics Take Back Coalition, harmful chemicals like lead and mercury from electronic devices in landfills may contaminate ground water.  Many “recycling” centers actually strip only the most valuable components before shipping the rest over seas.  25 states have laws on the books requiring e-waste to be brought to high tech, certified e-waste recycling centers. This is a very positive development, but it is not enough!

E-waste that ends up in the third world is processed using very primitive recycling techniques by workers who lack protective gear. After the most valuable parts of the waste are stripped, workers literally burn the rest, releasing toxins into the air and polluting their communities. Since these products contain precious metals as well as hazardous materials, there is an incentive for poor workers to put themselves and their environment at risk.

The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (H.R. 2284) would make it illegal to ship E-Waste overseas. It is time for us to take responsibility for our electronic waste, to demand that it be recycled properly, here at home, instead it overseas.


Dear United States House of Representatives,

We write to ask that you support The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (H.R. 2284), which would make it illegal to ship dangerous e-waste overseas.

It is essential that this potentially hazardous waste be disposed of properly, in high tech, certified recycling centers, rather than by hand in impoverished communities overseas. The toxic chemicals in electronic waste, such as mercury and lead, pose a threat to the health and safety of communities and the environment. Although recycling e-waste properly is expensive, we have the resources to do so here in the United States. It is time we took responsibility for our electronic waste, and pass this crucial legislation.


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  1. MaryJo Matheny says:

    The government could be the first to use the law after enactment, thereby being a good example to its citizens.

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