Used "E-Waste" Exports: United States International Trade Commission.

Report from United States International Trade Commission.

Report on Export of Used Electronic Products. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

The U.S. International Trade Commission announces the release of

Used Electronic Products: An Examination of U.S. Exports

USITC Publication 4379
Investigation No. 332-528 

"End Uses of Working U.S. UEP Exports

"An estimated 60 percent of U.S. UEP exports (by value) were exported in tested, working condition in 2011. While it is not always clear whether whole goods shipped to developing countries are intended for resale or recycling, available information suggests that they are most likely resold in working condition where possible, because most working UEPs (particularly more recent models) have a higher resale value than the recoverable materials they contain. According to one study, for example, nearly 90 percent of used personal computers being imported into Peru are resold rather than dismantled for recycling or raw materials, largely because their sales value intact surpassed that of their component materials.11 Similarly, in Ghana, 90 percent of UEP imports in 2009 were either in working condition (70 percent) or repairable to be resold (20 percent) (box 5.1).12 Thus, the end use for most working and repairable personal computers, cell phones, and other UEPs that are exported is initially a secondhand market."

(Note: The other 40% includes separated scrap and formal recycling)


U.S. sales of used electronic products (UEP) in 2011 were valued at $19.2 billion, and U.S. exports of such products in 2011 made up 7 percent of total U.S. UEP sales, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in its new publication.
Completed at the request of the U.S. Trade Representative, the report is based on data collected through a nationwide survey of 5,200 refurbishers, recyclers, brokers, information technology asset managers, and other UEP handlers. The report covers the year 2011 and focuses on audio and visual equipment, computers and peripheral equipment, digital imaging devices, telecommunication equipment, and component parts of these products. The Commission's findings include:
·         UEPs are collected from consumers and businesses, sorted by value, then either refurbished and resold as working electronic equipment or disassembled into working parts or scrap commodities (metals, plastics, and glass) that are resold as manufacturing inputs in the United States and abroad.

·         The top five destinations for U.S. UEP exports in 2011 were Asia-Pacific countries (primarily Korea and Japan), Mexico, India, Hong Kong, and China, accounting for 74 percent of exports. Just over half of U.S. UEP exports were shipped to countries that are members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

·         Whole equipment for reuse accounted for the largest share of U.S. exports by value in 2011, and tested and working products represented the majority of U.S. exports of whole UEPs.

·         Refurbishing and repair enterprises accounted for the largest share of U.S. exporters of UEPs by value, followed by enterprises involved in wholesaling, brokering, or retailing.

·         Measured by end-use of the products, commodity materials intended for smelting or refining accounted for the largest share of U.S. exports by weight (43 percent) in 2011.

·         U.S. regulations in place in 25 states generally reduce exports by requiring electronics manufacturers to collect used products for recycling. Industry certification programs also likely serve to limit U.S. exports of UEPs. In contrast, limited U.S. capacity to process UEPs in two segments of the industry: cathode ray tube (CRT) glass and final smelting – create incentives to export CRT monitors, CRT glass, and circuit boards destined for smelting to retrieve precious metals.

·         In developing countries, demand for UEPs exported from the United States is strong, but the Basel Convention and some country regulations may limit such exports, since many developing countries agree not to import nonworking UEPs from OECD member countries.

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