U.S. ITC to conduct bipartisan survey of American electronics recycling and reuse landscape

Early next year, the U.S. International Trade Commission hopes to produce a definitive, unbiased report on how much electronics recyclers are exporting to foreign markets for reuse and recycling.

“We have been asked to look at used electronic products,” says Andrea Boron of the U.S. ITC.

The U.S. ITC is a bi-partisan, independent federal commission, created in the 1916, which operates in part as a think tank for Congress and the U.S. Trade Representative on trade-related issues. The major operations of the ITC include conducting anti-dumping investigations, studying performance and global competitiveness ofU.S.industries and the impact changes in trade policy might have, trade information services and trade policy support. The office plays no role in the development of trade policy and makes no recommendations on policy, only studies the impact policies have or might have for the federal government.

One thing Laura Bloodgood of the U.S. ITC says researchers have observed is a dichotomy in the industry between those who think exports should be encouraged and those who do not.

“At the ITC, we’ve always been geared towards the idea that exporting, international trade is good,” Bloodgood says. However, in the electronics recycling industry, “It does seem to us that people who do want to repair computers, and do want to refurbish them for resale, are very strongly communicating the idea that there are lots of good reasons to export. More than one person has told usU.S.electronics and access to used phones and computers contributed to the Arab Spring.”

The ITC is conducting a survey of American electronics recyclers to report back to the federal government exactly what, under the umbrella of “Used Electronic Products” is being exported by theU.S.industry. It’s a difficult nut to crack, says Boron.

“This includes everything from refurbished units, like PCs or phones that have been brought back up to spec and are going to be resold or donated to charity to shredded circuit boards and everything in between,” she says.

The ITC used one of the largest gatherings of electronics recyclers in theU.S.– theInstituteofScrap Recycling Industry’s annual convention and expo, taking place this week atMandalayBayinLas Vegas, as an opportunity to spread the word about the study and begin seeking sources for  interviews. Responding to interview requests and taking part in public hearings is voluntary, says Bloodgood, but filling out the survey is not. The ITC will conduct random sampling of the businesses in the industry, and for those who receive the survey in the mail, “they are legally obligated to reply,” she says.

To view the draft questionnaire, visit http://www.usitc.gov/332528comments. For more information on the ITC, visit www.usitc.gov/research_and_analysis/What_We_Are_Working_On.htm . The ISRI convention continues through April 19.

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  1. U.S. ITC Study of Electronics recycling, reuse and exports underway « escrapbeat

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