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Jim Burger pens Roll Call commentary about e-waste recycling bill

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Jim Burger

Published on: 10/3/2014

Lobbying & Policy member and intellectual property partner Jim Burger co-authored a recent commentary for CQ Roll Call, a major political news source in Washington.

The commentary, “E-Waste Export Policy Key to Stopping Electronics Counterfeits and Protecting Military Readiness ,” calls for Congress to take additional action to stem the tide of counterfeit electronics entering the U.S. and threatening national security.

Jim wrote the commentary with Henry Livingston, a technical director and engineering fellow at BAE Systems, a global defense, security and aerospace company, and Tom Sharpe, vice president at SMT Corporation, an electronics distributor to the defense and aerospace industries and counterfeit mitigation laboratory.

The authors detail the sharp contrast between the handling of legitimate electronic components — ultra clean environments, dedicated testing — and the harsh reprocessing practices used by counterfeiting operations in China — e-waste heated over fires, washed in rivers, and dipped in an acid wash.

“Obviously, microchips handled in this way will be prone to failure — sooner rather than later,” the authors write. “Yet even to a trained eye, the chips look factory fresh. These counterfeit parts are represented as ‘new’ by the counterfeiters and sold to American companies that are unaware of their origins and incorporate the counterfeit parts into their products.”

These counterfeits then find their way into technologies used by a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, health care, air travel and nuclear power.

Jim and his co-authors cite the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA) (HR 2791, S 2090), as a possible way to “choke off the counterfeiters’ feedstock: e-waste exports.” The bill, which already has bipartisan support, would require domestic recycling of all untested, nonworking electronics.

“By keeping these materials in the United States, we will keep them out of the hands of counterfeiters,” they write. “There is a strong network of responsible recyclers already established in the United States that is capable of scaling up to meet the additional demand.”

Jim has represented semiconductor companies before Congress, the White House and the Homeland Security, Defense and Treasury departments on the anti-counterfeiting issue. He previously wrote about the issue in a widely cited 2013 article for online publication Defense One, “Counterfeits Can Kill U.S. Troops. So Why Isn’t Congress and DoD Doing More to Stop it?