ISRI says allowing recyclers to unlock devices will unlock reuse market

ISRI says allowing recyclers to unlock devices will unlock reuse market

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

Oct. 31, 2013

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has come out in support of legislation that would allow U.S. recyclers to unlock electronic devices, including cellphones, and return them to the market for reuse.

At ISRI's annual fall board meeting, members agreed to back legislation introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA.) and accompanied by "companion legislation" by Patrick Leahy (D-VT), ISRI's press release states. By permitting electronics recyclers to "unlock" used cellphones, Goodlatte's bill would give the industry the authority to clean old cellphones of data and resell them in the U.S. and abroad to be used again under any cellphone carrier.

According to ISRI, the U.S. is the only country that prohibits recyclers from unlocking electronic devices and returning them to market for reuse. This restriction, the organization contends, is holding recycling firms back.

"The current system limits recyclers and consumers when it comes to extending the life and reusing cell phones and tablets," said ISRI president Robin Wiener. "Allowing electronics recyclers and refurbishers to unlock these devices will help encourage the reuse of used electronics products and thus avoid the unnecessary and wasteful disposal of these products in landfills."

While there is no vote currently scheduled for the bill, if passed it would alter U.S. copyright law to protect recyclers and refurbishers from being prosecuted for permanently unlocking electronic devices to be resold and reused. It would also allow consumers to unlock their own devices and switch carriers if they so choose.

Of ISRI's 1,700 members, more than 400 are U.S. electronic recyclers.

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