Exxon Mobil Creates Green U.S. Recycling Jobs

Instead of sending their defunct tanker to the infamous ship-scrapping beaches of South Asia, Exxon Mobil and wholly owned subsidiary SeaRiver Maritime, recently completed the sale of the S/R Wilmington, a 1984 built tanker, to a U.S. ship recycling facility, where it will be dismantled by a skilled workforce, using advanced technologies to manage the vessel’s hazardous waste stream. Exxon’s move to recycle the Wilmington in the U.S. is seen by the toxic trade watchdog organization, Basel Action Network (BAN), as a move to lead by example, opting for the safe and environmentally preferable ship recycling methods of U.S. ship recyclers, while creating green U.S. jobs in a tough economy. “We applaud this decision and hope this is a harbinger of many more such corporate choices – to internalize costs and not use the global commons or developing countries as convenient dumping grounds for pollution and harmful activities,” said Mr. Colby Self, Green Ship Recycling Campaign Director for BAN.

This move is in stark contrast to some of Exxon’s competitors including BP, who often send their retired fleets to the shipbreaking beaches of South Asia, where nearly a quarter of the exploited workforce at these yards are child laborers making less than USD$1 per day, and where little is done to protect their health and safety or that of the environmentally sensitive tidal flats where these vessels are scrapped.

Because of its age, the Wilmington is suspected of containing a host of hazardous wastes within its construction. These wastes cannot be managed in an environmentally sound manner on the shipbreaking beaches of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, where approximately 90% of the obsolete global shipping fleet is dismantled. Using advanced technologies at U.S. ship recycling facilities, these wastes, including PCBs, asbestos, lead, and mercury are contained and managed with proper care, while approximately 91% of the vessel, including critical metal resources such as steel, aluminum, and copper, are fully recycled and recirculated into the marketplace, thereby reducing demand for environmentally destructive primary metal mining and related carbon emissions.

BAN is pleased with this outcome after having been in close contact with Exxon/SeaRiver for months,” said Self. “Building on this positive result, we now call on Exxon to further lead by example to make a corporate commitment to Off the Beach environmentally sound management of all end-of-life vessels owned, operated or leased on behalf of Exxon/SeaRiver.

The NGO Platform, of which BAN is a part, is seeking an “Off the Beach Commitment” from all enterprises utilizing shipping. This Commitment entails agreeing to ensure that the ships used by a company directly or under contract, do not find their way to the beaches of South Asia at end-of-life.

Two waste firms fined in illegal export case

Two waste companies have been fined £5,000 each after an illegal shipment of mixed waste destined for India was stopped at Felixstowe Port by Environment Agency officers.

In a case heard at Norwich Magistrates Court on Thursday (October 6), Nuneaton-based waste carrier and broker Williams Recycling (UK) Ltd pleaded guilty to transporting mixed waste to India without the pre-written notification and consent of the authorities. The company was fined the maximum penalty of £5,000.

The material came from Norwich-based waste paper recycling MW White (Norwich) Ltd, which had described the waste as ‘mixed paper’. MW White pleaded guilty to mis-describing the waste on its waste transfer notes and was also fined the maximum penalty of £5,000.

The companies were also ordered to share full costs, which amounted to £6,655 each.

The waste was in a shipment of 10 containers stopped during a routine inspection by Environment Agency officers in January 2010. In total, 225 tonnes of waste was discovered, much of it very smelly from rotting food and nappies among other waste such as plastic, tin cans and textiles. There was also some waste paper.

Prosecuting, Mrs Miriam Tordoff told the court it would have been difficult to recover waste paper and cardboard in an environmentally sound manner from the non-waste paper items.

“Waste was not sorted or checked before it was loaded,” she said. “Had a procedure been in place to check the waste before loading and transporting, these offences could have been avoided.”

The 10 containers were loaded at a site in Station Road, Ketteringham where MW White operates and Williams Recycling was listed on each of the export delivery notes that went with the containers to Felixstowe Docks as the person arranging the shipment. The company was also listed as the customer on each of the waste transfer notes that White completed for each container.

Basel Convention

Magistrates were told that the Basel Convention of 1992 had been ratified by 172 countries, including the UK and India, to control the growing transfrontier movement of hazardous waste and other waste to protect human health and the environment.

Europe brought in similar legislation in 1993 with similar aims and setting out a system controlling what wastes can be exported outside the EU. The UK ratified the European law in 1994 with the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations, which were subsequently amended in 2007.

These Regulations prohibit the movement of mixed wastes to certain countries, including India, without going through a detailed permission procedure to ensure the waste is dealt with properly. The procedure also requires contracts to be in place, insurance and financial guarantees in case things go wrong.

Duty of Care

The court was also told that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 there was a duty of care to supply a written description of the waste to enable the person receiving it to avoid committing a waste offence. MW White transferred waste within 10 shipping containers without providing an accurate description of their contents.

Paul White, managing director of MW White, told investigating officers that waste was collected from local authorities, businesses, schools and charities. He accepted that the company had not made any checks on the suitability of the waste to be exported.

Susan Williams, sole director of Williams Recycling, told officers she was expecting the material to be mixed waste paper and no-one had looked at the waste before it was loaded.

Charges

The exact details of the charges the two companies pleaded guilty to are as follows:

M W White (Norwich) Ltd:

1.        Between 12 January 2010 and 19 January 2010 you, being a person who keeps and treats controlled waste, failed to comply with the Duty of Care imposed by Section 34(1) and (5) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 in that on the transfer of such waste, you failed to ensure that there was transferred such written description of the waste as would have enabled other persons to avoid a contravention of Section 33 of the said Act and to comply with the Duty under Section 34(1) of the said Act as respects the escape of waste.

Contrary to section 34(1)(c)(ii) and (6) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Williams Recycling (UK) Ltd:

1.        Between 12 January 2010 and 19 January 2010, and by virtue of Article and 37(5) of the European Waste Shipment Regulation EC 1013/2006, you transported mixed waste, to India, a country to which the OECD decision does not apply, without the procedure of prior written notification and consent of Article 35 of said European Regulation

Contrary to Regulations 23B(2) and 58 of the Transfrontier Shipment of Waste Regulations 2007

  • When contacted by letsrecycle.com this morning (October 10), MW White had no comment to make on the case.

Two Charged in Federal Indictment With Dumping E-Waste Illegally Overseas

The top two executives from Evergreen, Colo.-based Executive Recycling Inc. each face up to 52 years in prison on wire fraud and other charges stemming from allegations they illegally shipped hundreds of thousands of lead-laden CRTs and other e-waste to China, according to a fed-eral indictment handed down Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver. Executive Recycling was the firm profiled in the November 2008 60 Minutes expose on clandestine e-waste exports to devel-oping countries. Executive Recycling CEO Brandon Richter and Vice President of Operations Tor Olson shipped more than 300 container-loads of e-waste to China between 2005 and 2008, the indictment said. "Approximately 160 of these exported cargo containers contained a total of more than 100,000 CRTs." Richter and Olson did so in violation of the federal Resource Conversation and Recovery Act, which bars "the export of hazardous waste to another country without first filing with the EPA a written notification of intent to export and obtaining the consent of the receiving country," the in-dictment said. Neither Richter nor Olson nor their attorneys responded to our requests for comment on the indictment.

Richter and Olson "knowingly devised and intended to devise a scheme to defraud various business and government entities who wanted to dispose of their e-waste," the indictment said. They pocketed $1.8 million by selling the e-waste to unscrupulous "brokers" in China, collecting the money through international and interstate wire transfers, it said. They also "falsely advertised to customers that they would dispose of e-waste in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regula-tions," it said. They also "falsely represented" that they would not send the e-waste overseas and fal-sified records to thwart investigators, it said. Prosecutors won't seek to have Richter or Olson jailed while they await trial, the indictment said.

The Basel Action Network, which originally investigated Executive Recycling and later per-suaded CBS to run the 60 Minutes segment, hailed the indictment as "the first instance that criminal charges have been brought against an e-waste exporter." The indictment "is a major victory for global environmental justice," said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett. "Even before we have a U.S. law in place to explicitly prohibit this dumping on developing countries, the U.S. government’s criminal justice system has recognized the massive toxic trade we first discovered in 2001 as fraudu-lent, as smuggling, and as an environmental crime. Now these sham recyclers are warned: their shameful practices can land them in jail."

Executive Recycling "is just the tip of the e-waste iceberg," said Puckett. "They are but one of hundreds of fake recyclers who sell greenness and responsibility but in fact practice global dumping. This is why we must pass federal legislation prohibiting this activity."

"This is great work by the federal agencies to bring these criminal charges against a fake recycler –– one who looked right into 60 Minutes’ TV cameras and denied being an exporter," said Barbara Kyle, na-tional coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. It’s a "common practice" in the industry to export e-waste to developing nations without any concern for the harm it causes, she said. "But currently it’s only illegal to export CRTs from the U.S. –– not the lengthy list of other e-waste that we are currently dumping on poor countries abroad," Kyle said. She urged Congress to pass legislation "that would make all this e-waste dumping illegal." The CEA declined comment on the indictment. The Institute of Scrap Recycling Indus-tries didn’t comment by our deadline. — Paul Gluckman

Energy Efficiency

Eton Corp. debuted the Mobius, a rechargeable battery case with a solar panel. Designed for the iPhone 4, the rechargeable battery case features a monocrystal solar panel that needs only one hour in the sun to provide an additional 25 minutes of talk time, the company said. —— Regulators should set specific smart meter "installation and functionality" targets to speed de-ployment of smart grid applications, said Chris King, chief regulatory officer at eMeter, a smart grid platform provider. Government leaders should "leverage policies to allow the market to deliver crea-tive solutions in order to fully achieve their smart grid goals," he said in a statement. He said the EU’s policy of 80 percent meter installation by 2020 and 100 percent by 2022 is "one prominent ex-ample of forward thinking national policy." While having "visionary" renewable energy standards and smart grid implementation policies on a state-level, the U.S. lacks a "cohesive national policy for the country to reach its smart grid goals," he said.

E-Waste

Experts will look at the "shifting recycling markets" for electronics and rigid plastics at the North-east Recycling Council’s (NERC) fall conference in Northampton, Mass., Oct. 25-26, the group said. Scheduled speakers include Jason Linnell, executive director of the National Center for Electronics Recy-cling; Eric Harris, director of government affairs at the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries; Kim Holmes, a consultant to R2 Solutions; and Cindy Couts, president of Sims Recycling Solutions. Issues are to include the impact of third-party certification on electronics recycling business and issues relating to the export of used electronics plastics, NERC said. 

Federal Actions

Worldwide energy consumption will grow 53 percent between 2008 and 2035, with much of the increase driven by strong economic growth in the developing nations, especially China and In-dia, the federal Energy Information Administration said. "China and India account for half of the projected increase in world energy use over the next 25 years." China, which only recently became the world's top energy consumer, is projected to use 68 percent more energy than the U.S. by 2035, said Acting EIA Administrator Howard Gruenspecht. Renewable energy is projected to be the fast-est growing source of primary energy over the next 25 years, but fossil fuels will remain the domi-nant source of energy, EIA said. 

Industry Notes

The IEEE said a global standard for smart grid energy and IT interoperability was approved and published. IEEE 2030 sets up a "globally relevant" smart grid interoperability reference model that can be used by utilities, device makers, governments who are crafting regulations, and by other standards development organizations, it said. "IEEE 2030 is poised to support the accelerated roll-out of the smart grid and realization of the revolutionary benefits — greater consumer choice, im-proved electric-system reliability and increased reliance on renewable sources of energy — that it promises for the people worldwide." Work has started for IEEE 2030 extensions, it said. They are IEEE P2030.1, a guide for electric-sourced transportation infrastructure; IEEE 2030.2, a guide for interoperability of energy storage systems; and IEEE P2030.3, a standard for test procedure for electric energy storage equipment. 

International

India’s spending on green IT and sustainability initiatives will double from $35 billion in 2010 to $70 billion by 2015, said a Gartner report. Green IT and sustainability trends are finding their way into the IT departments of many industries in India, the report said. The country’s ICT industry will be an "early adopter of green IT and sustainability solutions as India is one of the fast-est growing markets in terms of IT hardware and communications infrastructure consumption," said analyst Ganesh Ramamoorthy. The banking and financial services, hospitality, manufacturing and other industries will also join the green IT tend early in India, the report said. In other sectors, ad-dressing energy, carbon and resource efficiency is still in the early stages, it said. 

Trends

Consumer understanding and acceptance remain the "biggest obstacles" to smart grid imple-mentation, said a study by the Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP). More than 90 percent of respondents to the survey of professionals in the energy efficiency sector of the industry said the consumer didn’t understand what’s meant by the smart grid. The resistance to smart meter remains high, the study said, and that "presents a challenge to bringing online the more sophisticated back-end, less visible elements of the smart grid." More than half the respondents said "customer resistance to smart metering technology will be a significant factor in slowing implementation of the smart grid," it said. "Clearly there is a lot of confusion about what is meant by the term smart grid," said AESP CEO Meg Matt. "That means we need to do a better job of explaining what the smart grid is and isn’t." 

Executive Recycling Owner Facing Federal Charges

A Colorado company that was the focus of a 60 Minutes investigation is at the center of federal charges. Executive Recycling, its owner and a former vice president of operations were named in a 16 count indictment on Friday. The company used to operate out of Englewood at 1630 West Evans. Now the business at that address is Techcycle, which is owned by Brandon Richter. Richter is also the owner of Executive Recycling, named in the federal indictment.

Nearly three years ago, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley followed the trail of illegal exports around the world to Asia. 60 Minutes found that electronics people thought were being recycled, actually ended up in a dump in China where it was contaminating the water and air of people who live there.

RELATED STORY: 60 Minutes “Following The Trail Of Toxic Waste”

Executive Recycling, Richter and former vice president Tor Olson are charged with environmental crimes involving export hazardous waste, destruction and falsification of records, wire and mail fraud.

The indictment alleges more than 100,000 Cathode Ray Tubes, CRTs, which contain lead, were illegally shipped over a three year period to foreign countries, including China.

The indictment states, “The defendants falsely advertised to customers that they would dispose of E-waste in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.

It’s alleged the defendants made $1.8 million in the illegal activity. The indictment is a result of a two and a half year federal investigation.

A conviction on just the wire fraud could bring up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

E-waste: Recyclers, scrap haulers vie to keep U.S. computer trash home

How the federal government dumps half a million worn-out computers and countless other electronic devices every year may help expand the $5 billion electronics recycling industry. The Environmental Protection Agency and General Services Administration are considering new rules of engagement for contract recyclers as they start requiring agencies to dispose of old computers, monitors and other electronic waste.

The agencies said they will decide next year on which third-party certification to apply to electronics recyclers under the National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship, which was unveiled this summer.

Green recyclers and traditional scrap haulers are at odds over the certification standards, one of which would ban exporting computer trash, along with other restrictions. Both sides agree that the U.S. agency mandate could transform the industry.

“By some estimates, the federal government goes through 10,000 computers a week,” GSA Administrator Martha Johnson said in an Aug. 9 statement. “Requiring that each of those machines end their useful lives at a certified recycler could mean big business.”

$5 billion industry

The U.S. electronics recycling industry employs 30,000 people and accounts for $5 billion in annual revenue, said David Daoud, personal computing analyst for International Data Corp. in Framingham, Mass. That amount could double if consumers follow the lead of federal agencies and companies, he said.

Jeremy Farber, founder of Chantilly-based PC Recycler, agreed. “When the federal government starts requiring something,” he said, “it trickles down.”

Kenny Gravitt, chief executive at Global Environmental Services, a recycler in Georgetown, Ky., that reclaims copper and aluminum from circuit boards and other components, said the entire U.S. economy would benefit from the export ban.

“I would like to see an edict come out that there will be no more exporting of electronic waste,” he said. “When that happens and the GSA opens up the playing field to qualified and serious recyclers, it’ll create jobs.”

Gravitt’s three-year-old company has added 100 employees to process electronics for companies including Japan’s Canon and Konica Minolta Holdings, attracting the GSA’s Johnson for a visit last month, he said. The company plans to pursue a GSA multiple-award schedule contract for environmental services.

The E-Stewards program, developed by environmentalists at the nonprofit Basel Action Network, bans exports of electronics waste to developing countries and focuses on getting end users to recycle, Daoud said.

A less restricting standard, called Responsible Recycling, or R2, is promoted by the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, a trade association. Industry considers R2 more business-friendly because it factors in business operations, revenue and profits, in addition to a company’s environmental record, for certification.

“Both certifications are essentially driven by competing interests, competing philosophies,” Daoud said. “The two are bound to clash, and that’s creating confusion among consumers.”

GSA, EPA weigh options

The GSA will propose changes to procurement regulations in February, while the EPA will lead the evaluation of the two certification standards.

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has not taken a position but also says the government recycling mandate will have an industrywide impact. “A robust electronics recycling industry in America would create new opportunities to efficiently and profitably address a growing pollution threat,” she said in a Sept. 2 e-mail.

The plan from the EPA and GSA as presented does not outright ban exports of electronics waste, which troubles some environmentalists.

“A lot of used electronics are managed very badly, and they get exported to developing nations,” said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the San Francisco-based Electronics TakeBack Coalition, of which the Basel Action Network is a member.

Complicating the federal drive to regulate e-waste are state laws, including in Maine, California and Connecticut, that each use varying approaches to requiring electronics makers to collect e-waste from consumers and businesses.

“Some of these states have had these programs three or four years now and are running them somewhat successfully,” PC Recycler’s Farber said. “For some states that have nothing, they’re not going to want to do it either, because they’re doing nothing for a reason.”

To date, major original equipment manufacturers have self-regulated e-waste processing because “manufacturers don’t want to hire a bad recycler,’’ said Walter Alcorn, vice president of environmental affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association, an industry group in Arlington County. “There is PR risk and environmental risk.”

Dell, the largest supplier of personal computers to the federal government, has had e-waste disposal programs since 2004 and takes back old units from federal customers in exchange for credit toward future buys, said Mike Watson, director of compliance for the Round Rock, Tex.-based company.

The company has banned exports by its third-party recyclers. Watson, though, played down any conflict between the two certifications, saying they are more similar than different.

“This is just a beauty contest, and we choose not to get engaged in beauty contests,’’ Watson said.

First Recycler Indicted for Exporting Toxic E-Waste

In the first case where criminal charges have been brought against an electronic-waste exporter, the federal government today charged two executives of Executive Recycling Inc., a Denver, Colorado electronics recycling firm, with multiple crimes. Executive Recycling CEO Brandon Richter and Tor Olson, vice president of operations, were indicted on 16 counts, including wire and mail fraud, environmental crimes, exportation contrary to law, and destruction, alteration, or falsification of records.

The charges were brought in conection with shipments of e-waste going to developing countries. Informal processing of e-waste without safety provisions can cause serious health and pollution problems. Some electronics, such as the cathode ray tubes of old computer monitors, contain lead, cadmium, beryllium, and others may contain brominated flame retardants.

The federal government first became aware of the alleged violations following an investigation by Basel Action Network, BAN, a Seattle-based toxic trade watchdog.

After 30 months of investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations team and a team from the U.S. EPA Criminal Investigation Division laid charges today.

The investigation was brought to public attention when BAN worked with CBS's 60 Minutes news magazine in an episode entitled "The Wasteland."

In 2007 and 2008, BAN volunteers photographed 21 sea-going containers at Executive Recycling's loading docks that they tracked across the world, with most ending up in China.

BAN then alerted the Government Accountability Office and 60 Minutes, and together the groups documented U.S. businesses posing as responsible electronics recyclers but instead shipping e-waste to developing countries where it was processed in what BAN calls "deadly, polluting operations."

"This is a major victory for global environmental justice," said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett.According to the federal grand jury indictment, Executive Recycling was responsible for at least 300 such exports, including shipments of more than 100,000 toxic cathode ray tubes that netted the company $1.8 million.

"Even before we have a U.S. law in place to explicitly prohibit this dumping on developing countries, the U.S. government's criminal justice system has recognized the massive toxic trade we first discovered in 2001 as fraudulent, as smuggling, and as an environmental crime," said Puckett. "Now these sham recyclers are warned: their shameful practices can land them in jail."

Legislation has been proposed in both the House and the Senate to prohibit the export of toxic electronic waste to developing countries.

Such an export prohibition already exists in Europe.

In 2008, the U.S. Government Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, criticized the EPA and uncontrolled e-waste exports in a strongly worded report. EPA enforcers themselves have said that the United States lacks clear laws to combat the global e-waste dumping practice.

"Sadly, Executive Recycling is just the tip of the e-waste iceberg," said Puckett. "They are but one of hundreds of fake recyclers who sell greenness and responsibility but in fact practice global dumping."

Puckett advocates passing federal legislation to ban dumping e-waste in developing countries. He urges anyone disposing of electronic waste to use only Certified e-Stewards® Recyclers who will not export old toxic computers and TVs to a developing country.

Executive Recycling still operates in the Denver area and has had e-waste recycling contracts with the cities of Denver, Boulder, and Broomfield and the El Paso County and Jefferson County governments.

The company is registered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a "Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste."

The United States is the world leader in producing electronic waste, tossing out about three million tons each year.

China already produces about 2.3 million tons (2010 estimate) domestically, second only to the United States. And, despite having banned e-waste imports, China remains an e-waste dumping ground for developed countries.

According to a report by UNEP titled, "Recycling - from E-Waste to Resources," the amount of e-waste being produced - including mobile phones and computers - could rise by as much as 500 percent over the next decade in some countries, such as India.

Grand jury indicts owner and former VP of Executive Recycling

Two men from Colorado were indicted on Friday for shipping electronic waste overseas illegally. The U.S. Justice Department says Executive Recycling, Inc. sent cathode ray tubes, which are found in older computer monitors, to countries overseas, including China, to dispose of them.

Because of that, 36-year-old Brandon Richter of Highlands Ranch, owner of Executive Recycling, and 36-year-old Tor Olson of Parker, former vice president of Executive Recycling, were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday. They both face charges of wire and mail fraud, environmental crimes in connection with the failure to file a notification to export hazardous waste and destruction, alteration or falsification of records.

The Justice Department says between February 2005 and January 2009, the company created a scheme to defraud various business and government entities who wanted to dispose of their e-waste.

The company said it would dispose of the waste in an environmentally friendly manner and said it would not be sent overseas.

Instead, investigators say the waste was sent overseas and it was not disposed of in an environmentally safe way.

Executive Recycling execs indicted; environmental crimes alleged

A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted two executives from Executive Recycling, a metro-area electronics recycling company, after a three-year investigation into allegations they dumped hazardous computer waste overseas instead of reusing and reselling it domestically. Executive Recycling, based in Englewood, was profiled in a 60 Minutes expose in 2008 about the environmental and human toll of disposing of used computers and electronics, or ewaste, in China and other countries.

Investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency raided the business in early 2009 and seized records under a search warrant.

The agency and other investigators have declined to discuss the case publicly since then.

The grand jury indicted Executive Recycling CEO and own Brandon Richter, 36, of Highlands Ranch, and former company vice president Tor Olson, 36, of Parker, on charges of wire and mail fraud as well as environmental crimes.

The indictment, released Friday alleges, the two exported hazardous ewaste — mostly monitors with cathode-ray tubes (or CRT) — without a proper EPA license, and then they altered, destroyed or falsified records about the shipments.

Interviewed by the DBJ as the investigation started in 2008, CEO Brandon Richter claimed ignorance about the overseas shipments of ewaste — first uncovered by Seattle-based environmental group Basel Action Network — and blamed what 60 Minutes reported on a Canadian company it contracted.

“We thought it was going to Canada or just to be sold here in the United States,” said Richter.

The EPA investigation, the indictment said, connected Executive Recycling to more than 300 exports of ewaste between 2005 and 2008, including 160 exports that shipped more than 100,000 CRT monitors.

Executive Recycling told clients — including the governments of Boulder, Broomfield, El Paso County and the Jefferson County and Cherry Creek school district; and The Children’s Hospital, Centura Health Hospital, the Denver Newspaper Agency, and ADT Security — that all the electronics they collected from them would be reused or disposed of in accordance with all environmental regulations.

Instead, the indictment said, Richter and Olson made more than $1.8 million selling the ewaste to companies that shipped them abroad, presumably so the ewaste would be dismantled to recover tiny amounts of precious metals they contain.

The electronics, especially CRT monitors, contain lead and other hazardous materials, and the dismantling of ewaste can poison the area where it’s done, and be harmful to the people involved.

To read the entire release issued by the U.S. Attorney's office, click here.

To see a copy of the Executive Recycling Indictment, click here.

First Federal Criminal Charges Brought Against Recycler for Exporting Toxic e-Waste

After 30 months of investigations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and EPA Criminal Investigation Division handed down multiple criminal charges today against two executives of Executive Recycling Inc., a Denver, Colorado electronics recycling firm. The government first became aware of the alleged violations following an investigation by the Basel Action Network (BAN), a Seattle based organization dedicated to combating toxic trade. The investigation became highly publicized after BAN worked with CBS’s 60 Minutes news magazine in an episode entitled “The Wasteland.” It is the first instance that criminal charges have been brought against an e-waste exporter. In 2007 and 2008, BAN volunteers photographed 21 sea-going containers at Executive Recycling’s loading docks that they subsequently tracked across the world, with most ending up in China. BAN then alerted the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and 60 Minutes, and together the groups documented US businesses posing as responsible electronics recyclers but who instead were simply shipping e-waste to developing countries where it was processed in deadly, highly polluting operations. The resulting 60 Minutes episode has since become one of the most popular and award winning in the program’s history.

This is a major victory for global environmental justice,” said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett. “Even before we have a US law in place to explicitly prohibit this dumping on developing countries, the US government’s criminal justice system has recognized the massive toxic trade we first discovered in 2001 as fraudulent, as smuggling, and as an environmental crime. Now these sham recyclers are warned: their shameful practices can land them in jail.”

Currently, legislation has been proposed in both the US House of Representatives and the Senate to prohibit the export of toxic electronic waste to developing countries. Such an export prohibition already exists in Europe. The US has been behind in enacting such rules, and in 2008, the U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) was highly critical of the EPA and uncontrolled e-waste exports in a strongly worded report. EPA enforcers themselves have lamented that the US lacks clear laws to combat the global e-waste dumping practice.

According to the federal grand jury indictment, Executive Recycling was responsible for at least 300 exports, including shipments of more than 100,000 toxic cathode ray tubes that netted the company $1.8 million. Executive’s CEO, Mr. Brandon Richter, together with Mr. Tor Olson, Vice President of Operations, were indicted on 16 separate counts including wire and mail fraud, environmental crimes, exportation contrary to law, and destruction, alteration, or falsification of records.

Executive Recycling still operates in the Denver area and has had e-waste recycling contracts with the cities of Denver, Boulder, and Broomfield and the El Paso County and Jefferson County governments. It is registered with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment as a “Large Quantity Handler of Universal Waste.

Sadly, Executive Recycling is just the tip of the e-waste iceberg,” said Puckett. “They are but one of hundreds of fake recyclers who sell greenness and responsibility but in fact practice global dumping. This is why we must pass federal legislation prohibiting this activity. And this is why all those disposing of electronic waste should use only Certified e-Stewards® Recyclers who will not export your old toxic computer or TV to a developing country.

E-Trash: Stemming The Tide Of Global Trade Of High-Tech Toxic Waste

A strange ceremony took place earlier this summer on the fourth floor of a small office building in the center of Seattle, this famously forward-looking city in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Important executives from the South Korean consumer electronics group LG had traveled there to sign an agreement with the Basel Action Network (BAN), an American NGO that opposes the international trade of toxic waste, especially waste derived from computer and electronic products, or WEEE (Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment).

“It’s historical,” said BAN founder Jim Puckett during the July 26 event, when LG committed itself to working only with certified recycling firms to take care of its toxic waste. In doing so, LG agreed to be part of the “e-Stewards” program, which BAN launched in 2010. Currently about 20 firms, including Bank of America and the U.S. branch of Samsung, have made the same pledge and thus been granted “e-Stewards” labels.

“People often ask me why we collaborate with firms like these, which don’t really have a reputation for defending the environment,” says Puckett. “I answer these questions by saying that once these firms get involved in this process, they are forced to reflect on their whole production chain and on its impact on the environment.”

“[The corporations] are not perfect, but, in the past years, we have made more progress by working directly with these firms than by trying to put pressure on the American administration, even since President Barack Obama came to power.”

BAN’s primary concern is the export of toxic waste from industrial countries to Asia or Africa, where the products are treated – or often just burnt – with little regard for the environmental or health risks involved.

America leads rat pack

The United States has a particularly bad reputation when it comes to this kind of toxic trading. It is the world’s top producer and exporter of electronic waste and it has never ratified the 1989 Convention of Basel, which regulates the “transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal.” BAN estimates that between 50 and 100 WEEE containers travel everyday – quite legally –from the United States to Hong Kong, Asia’s principal port of entry.

The European Union, in contrast, decided in 1997 to forbid the export of dangerous waste to countries that are not members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a wealthy nations club.

Puckett, a former film director, began to take an interest in industrial pollution after studying the unclear waters of Washington’s Puget Sound, a complex system of interconnected marine waterways and basins close to Seattle. He then joined Greenpeace, led a campaign for the tightening of the Basel Convention and became a crusader against WEEE.

“I created BAN in 1997 because we needed to turn theory into practice. Industrialized countries and their firms could not continue using free trade and globalization as a pretext to externalize their coasts at the expense of the poorest,” says Puckett. “I started in the basement of my house in Seattle. BAN began to make a name for itself when we started focusing on WEEE, which affects everybody, firms and consumers, at different levels.”

His method is simple: go into the field, collect personal accounts (using a hidden camera if necessary) and then use the documents to put pressure on the firms. He can explain in details the horrifying conditions by which computers, TV sets and other kinds of devices coming from the West are cut up in China, Vietnam, Nigeria and Ghana by people working with absolutely no protection. People sometimes work in open garbage dumps where they breath in toxic fumes everyday and wade about in waters fouled by heavy metal contaminants.

The certified recycling companies that participate in the “e-Stewards” program commit themselves not to export to foreign countries the waste that has been entrusted to their care. Instead they agree to treat it themselves, using techniques that respect both the environment and take into account health risks.

There are about 50 certified recyclers in North America. Participating firms finance a little more than a half of BAN’s annual budget of 1 million dollars through fees they pay to enjoy the “e-Stewards” label. The program aims to expand internationally and BAN plans to open an office in Brussels.

Indeed, Europe is not as virtuous as it seems. WEEE materials are trafficked illegally, with some exporters using fake declarations. According to Puckett, one common practice is to ship electronic waste under the guise that the machines are “second-hand” goods than can then be resold. In reality, the products are just pure garbage destined for the dump. “The companies just want to get rid of the WEEE,” the BAN head says.

Read the original article in French

E-waste solution must involve us all: JPAC

The creation of programs to create awareness of the effects of e-waste on health and the environment, as well as the involvement of bigger, global players to take advantage of their leadership, best practices and opportunities in Canada, Mexico and the United States, are among the recommendations to the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) of North America, released today by a panel of citizens of the three countries. As part of the forum organized by the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) in Montreal, Canada, on 21–22 June 2011, the document submitted to Council strongly recommends that the three NAFTA countries endorse the principles of the Basel Ban Amendment of the Basel Convention to provide an internationally consistent, legal restraint on the abuse created by market forces that externalize the costs of e-waste to less developed countries.

In its recommendations, JPAC recognizes the work of the CEC and the governments of the three countries to address e-waste and praises their inclusion in the CEC's Operational Plan of initiatives to collect, track and coordinate data that will facilitate e-waste management and enforcement.

However, the panel recommends that a much wider and more inclusive definition of e-waste be embraced, one that will expand CEC projects beyond the focus on “computers and monitors.”

JPAC also highlights the need to pay special attention to promoting North American recycling and upgrading practices, ranging from consumer habits to green design initiatives that would extend lifecycles and place design emphasis on components that are less toxic and more easily recycled, or that can be upgraded rather than requiring complete replacement.

The full text of JPAC’s Advice to Council is available online, along with the video of the public forum held in Montreal and the expert presentations delivered there.

LG Electronics First to Commit to Certified E-Waste Recycling Worldwide

LG Electronics Inc. (066570.KS) today announced a commitment to use third-party certification for verifying how its electronics waste is recycled worldwide. By becoming the first e-Stewards Enterprise, LG will give preference to electronics recyclers worldwide that meet and are certified to the "e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment."

The international standard, developed by the non-profit Basel Action Network (BAN), with the advice of industry leaders and health and environmental specialists, is the world's most rigorous certification program for electronics recyclers. It prevents the export and dumping of toxic electronic waste in developing countries.

The standard also calls for strict protection of private data and occupational health safeguards to ensure workers in recycling plants are not exposed to toxic dusts.

"This is historic," says BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett. "To have a company like LG, with more than 90,000 employees working in 120 operations on five continents, embrace the e-Stewards program around the world will not only significantly protect human health and the environment from toxic pollution but will raise the profile of the e-Stewards internationally. It speaks volumes about LG's commitment to environmental leadership."

In 2010, LG recycled over 8 million pounds of home electronic products in the US, free of charge to consumers.

Currently, there are e-Stewards Enterprises in the US, Mexico and UK, and several are moving through the certification process in Canada.

Last week, the US government made its first effort to address electronics waste. An Interagency Task Force issued a report outlining purchasing and recycling guidelines for the federal government.

BAN praised the report for a strong emphasis on green design and the need for certified recyclers. But the nonprofit criticized the report for failing to address what is considered to be the most serious e-waste problem - e-waste exporting to developing countries.

Currently, most US electronic waste is exported to developing countries by US companies that claim to be recyclers, only to be bashed, burned, flushed with acids, and melted down in unsafe conditions in developing countries.

LG Electronics Commits to Using the Most Responsible e-Waste Solution Worldwide

The non-profit Basel Action Network (BAN) and LG Electronics today announced that LG Electronics Inc. is the first "Global e-Stewards Enterprise," a company committed to responsible recycling of its electronic waste and choosing to use e-Stewards® Certified electronics recyclers worldwide. "This is historic," said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett. "To have a company like LG, with more than 90,000 employees working in 120 operations on five continents, embrace the e-Stewards program around the world will not only significantly protect human health and the environment from toxic pollution but will raise the profile of the e-Stewards internationally. It speaks volumes about LG's commitment to environmental leadership."

The company has been leading the way in responsible electronics recycling in the United States. The LG Electronics Recycling Program provides consumers with a convenient and responsible way to dispose of used, unwanted, obsolete or damaged consumer electronics products. In 2010, LG recycled more than 8 million pounds of home electronic products in the United States, free of charge to consumers.

"LG has always been committed to providing consumers the highest quality products available while reducing the environmental impacts of the manufacturing and use of those products," said Dr. Skott Ahn, president and chief technology officer, LG Electronics, Inc. "Our partnership with BAN and e-Stewards demonstrates LG's equal commitment to reducing the impacts of products at the end of their life."

By becoming an e-Stewards Enterprise, LG will give preference to electronics recyclers that meet and are certified to the "e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment."

The international standard, developed by BAN, with the advice of industry leaders and health and environmental specialists, is the world's most rigorous certification program for electronics recyclers. It prevents the export and dumping of toxic electronic waste in developing countries. The standard also calls for strict protection of private data and occupational health safeguards to ensure workers in recycling plants are not exposed to toxic dusts.

Currently, there are e-Stewards Recyclers in the United States, Mexico and the UK with several in progress in Canada.

As the primary sponsor of the Champions of the Earth award, the United Nations flagship environmental award, LG contributes more than $600,000 annually to raise awareness of environmental issues at the regional and global levels and to help develop practical solutions.

"Sustainability is a core value at LG," said Wayne Park, president and CEO of LG Electronics USA. "From our ambitious carbon reduction commitments, to our industry-leading efforts to bring high efficiency ENERGY STAR® qualified products to market, to our support for environmental efforts around the world, reducing environmental impact, while enhancing consumers' lives through innovation. Life's good when you live green."