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What do you do with your old electronics?

For too many Americans, the answer involves dumping our computers, televisions and mobile phones in the trash. Our e-waste piles up in landfills and gets burned in incinerators, despite the fact that most electronics contain toxic substances that can seep into groundwater or emit poisonous fumes.

Even if you think you're getting rid of your electronics responsibly through an electronics recycler, there's no guarantee your goods are being disposed of properly.

Most electronics "recyclers" here in the U.S. don't really recycle at all. Instead, they ship containers full of our e-waste to developing countries like China, India, and Nigeria.

Our electronics end up piled high in dumps, where some of the world's poorest people -- including many poor children -- disassemble them to remove chips for reuse and extract precious metals for profit. The workers use unsafe methods like acid stripping and burning, both of which release dangerous toxins into the air, and they do this work without protective equipment.

We need to stop dumping our electronics into overflowing U.S. dumps, but passing our trash onto developing nations and unprotected workers isn't the way to do it.

In 2010, Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced H.R. 6252, a bill that would have made it illegal for U.S. electronics recyclers to send toxic e-waste to developing nations. The bill didn't make it out of committee in the 111th Congress, so we need to take action now to get the new Congress to reconsider.

Take action today and tell your representatives and the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce Committe and the Senate Energy and Natural Resouces Commitee it's time to pass a law that ends the export of e-waste to developing nations for good.

Letter to
Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Senator Jeff Bingaman
Chairman, House Energy and Commerce Committee Congressman Fred Upton
Ranking Member, House Energy and Commerce Committee Congressman Henry Waxman
and 3 others
Senator Lisa Murkowski
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate
I'm writing to urge you to pass a law that ends the export of electronic waste to developing nations.

Because of rapid technological advances, the U.S. disposes of over 400 million electronics every year. The vast majority of those end up clogging our landfills, where their toxic parts seep into our groundwater.

The rest of our e-waste is sent by consumers to recyclers, most of whom don't recycle anything at all. Instead, they ship containers full of our e-waste to developing countries like China, India, and Nigeria, where our electronics end up piled high in dumps. Poor workers -- including many poor children -- disassemble the products to extract parts and precious metals. They work under unsafe conditions, with little protective equipment, and are exposed to toxic byproducts.

Organizations like the Nonprofit Technology Network here in the U.S. run programs like eCycle DC! are doing their part -- but now it's your turn.

Please take urgent action to address our electronic waste crisis. It is time to pass a law that bans the export of e-waste to developing countries, and I urge you to reconsider the bill that your colleagues Representatives Gene Green and Mike Thompson introduced in the last Congress to address this issue.