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by Mark Carpenter | Feb 26, 2014

House-Passed Unlocking Legislation Discourages Cellphone Recycling & Refurbishment

(Washington, DC)
 – The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) today cautioned against unintended consequences limiting the recycling and refurbishment of cell phones if the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act (H.R. 1123), passed last night in the House of Representatives, becomes law. While the bill provides the benefit of consumers being able to unlock cellphones without permission from carriers, it makes it illegal for recyclers and refurbishers to unlock in bulk.

“The recycling industry applauds the effort of H.R. 1123 to give consumers the freedom to unlock their cellphones, but is concerned the side-effects could be harmful to the economic and environmental benefits of recycling,” said ISRI President Robin Wiener. “By not allowing unlocking phones in bulk, recyclers and refurbishers are placed in a competitive disadvantage and may be forced to outsource the repair jobs to facilities outside of the United States where unlocking is legal.”

Last October, the ISRI Board of Directors approved a cellphone unlocking policy that called for allowing consumers, including recyclers and refurbishers, the right to lawfully unlock technological devices. By allowing bulk unlocking, recyclers and refurbishers are able to put valuable and working devices back into the domestic and global marketplace where there is a strong demand.

“Unfortunately, rather than allowing refurbishers and recyclers the same right as consumers to unlock phones that they own, this legislation confuses the market and creates an impediment for the proper repair and reuse of such phones,” concluded Wiener. “It is our hope that the Senate addresses this oversight when it takes up the legislation.”

ISRI serves as the largest organization representing electronics recyclers with nearly 400 member companies that handle electronics at more than 675 locations throughout the U.S. and around the world. It also partners with Earth911 on the initiative Project Reboot to educate consumers on the importance of electronics recycling. 


The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI)
The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the Voice of the Recycling Industry™. ISRI represents more than 1,700 companies in 21 chapters nationwide that process, broker and industrially consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics and textiles. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute provides safety, education, advocacy, and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development. For more information about ISRI, visit