Part of the confusion is in the terminology "Responsible Recycling" or R2 and its relationship to U.S. EPA. According to a release from ISRI, The R2 Solutions organization was formed by John Lingelbach, a nationally recognized environmental mediator who "facilitated the original EPA-sponsored two-and-a-half year, multi-stakeholder process that resulted in the development of the R2 practices in 2008." He will also serve as R2 Solution's Acting Executive Director. The voluntary R2 practices include general principles and specific practices for recyclers disassembling or reclaiming used electronics equipment including those electronics that are exported for refurbishment and recycling.
The BAN Certified e-Stewards® Initiative program prohibits "exporting of hazardous e-waste from developed to developing countries" and the ISRI Responsible Recycling (R2) Certified Electronics Recycler® Program (RIOS) "prohibits e-recyclers and their downstream vendors from exporting these more toxic materials to countries that have enacted laws making their import illegal." As explained by ISRI in its release, "the goals established for R2 Solutions are fourfold: to assure the open, transparent and balanced governance of the R2 practices, with standards development and stakeholder consultations all made available publicly; to educate the public about responsible electronics recycling; to promote the use of the R2 practices; and, to explore opportunities for collaboration in furtherance of responsible electronics recycling throughout the world."
U.S. EPA has posted on its Responsible Recycling Practices website that, "EPA supports and will continue to push for further safe and protective recycling efforts and encourage improvements in best management practices for recyclers. There are existing recycling certification programs, such as R2 and eStewards that EPA believes advance environmentally safe practices and includes standards for use in third party certification of such efforts." Although U.S. EPA has said the issue of proper management of e-waste is a major international priority; and the Agency has recognized both the BAN and ISRI e-waste programs; it has not provided any independent clarity on the accuracy or extent of their responsible recycling claims.
On September 30, Representative Gene Green (D-TX), with cosponsors Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA) and John Carter (R-TX), introduced H.R. 6252, The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act to provide the United States with the regulatory framework to monitor the export of used electronics. Although e-waste (consumer electronics such as TVs, cell phones and computers) is the fastest growing waste stream in the country, the U.S. EPA currently has no framework to monitor the removal, disposal, and export to developing nations. Over 3 million tons of e-waste was generated by the United States in 2007. Representative Green said, "As technology advances at a rapid pace, explosive sales patterns emerge in consumer consumption and old electronics are discarded as a result. Many of these electronics are sent to developing nations for reuse or recycling." The legislation has received support from Dell, Apple, Samsung, The Electronics TakeBack Coalition, and The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) [See WIMS 10/1/10].