The issue of e-waste dumping remains as complex as the circuitry that embodies it, with arguments both for and against it. The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act received a new jolt with the issue of a report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) confirming that The Responsible Recycling Act (RERA, S. 1270, HR 2284) violates international trade law. The report indicates that the total export ban contemplated in RERA will be "difficult to reconcile with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), one of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and could be susceptible to challenge before a WTO panel."
"An export ban bill is nothing but a disguised measure that will fail to put an end to irresponsible recycling around the world, and will in fact take us backward by violating our trade obligations," said ISRI President Robin Wiener in a press release.
According to the report, the U.S. cannot unilaterally impose restrictions on electronic exports without risking repercussions in the WTO system. "U.S. GATT obligations prohibit any government actions that impose, or result in bans or other quantitative restriction of exports and imports destined to WTO members."
And while one of GATT's general exceptions is to protect human, animal or plant life or health, the burden to demonstrate the export ban produced a "material contribution" towards realizing its public health objective -ending illegal pollution in developing countries, would fall upon the U.S.