Electronic Waste Recycling Prosecution Highlights Calls for Stricter Regulations

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Illustrating a rare example of criminal enforcement under electronic waste (e-waste) regulations, the U.S. Attorney in the federal district of Colorado has successfully prosecuted a recycling business called Executive Recycling for allegedly exporting e-waste containing lead to foreign countries, including China. On December 21, 2012, a jury found Executive Recycling, its CEO, and Vice President of Operations guilty on several counts, including exporting glass video display components known as Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs), often found in TV monitors and computers, in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Colorado’s authorized hazardous waste program. Defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in April, but plan to appeal the jury verdict.

Despite existing regulations, a coalition of over 70 U.S. companies called the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling has pushed for legislation with stricter controls for e-waste exports, calling for e-waste recycling with better security protections and sustainability practices. Known as the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, HR2284 was introduced with its companion bill S1270 in the 112th Congress. Neither bill passed, yet the 113th Congress may pick the legislation up where the 112th left off.

The case of U.S. v. Executive Recycling is Criminal Case No. 11-cr-00376-WJM. The texts of S1270 and HR 2284 can be found here and here.