Major US Newspapers, TV, Radio Organizations File Brief in Support of Basel Action Network

Concerned about a possible limitation on the ability of those exercising their right to free speech to avoid being harassed by frivolous but costly defamation lawsuits, major media outlets including National Public Radio, CNN, the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Bloomberg, Dow Jones, and Time Magazine, filed an Amicus Brief last Friday supporting the appeal of the Basel Action Network (BAN).

BAN is a Seattle-based global environmental watchdog organization that was sued by an electronics recycler. In 2011, BAN spoke out against Chicago area electronics recycling firm, Intercon Solutions, after documenting the export of hazardous electronic waste from Intercon’s Chicago Heights facility to Hong Kong, China.

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California Consumers Bilked as Electronics Recycler Abandons Warehouses Full of TV Glass in Arizona

Basel Action Network, well known for discovering the global dumping of electronic waste in Asia, has joined forces with CBS News in California to expose a new type of dumping, this time in Arizona.

BAN found three warehouses in Yuma, Arizona, holding what is believed to be more than 9 million pounds of abandoned toxic picture tubes from old TVs and computer monitors originally collected by the California state Recycling Program.

Dow Management, the alleged recycling company that held the glass in Yuma, has disappeared and the principals are nowhere to be found. Dow was paid more than $581,000 by California Recyclers to take the glass, who were in turn paid $3.6 million from a California legislated recycling fund.

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BAN Applauds LG Electronics for Responsible E-waste Recycling

Global electronics and appliance innovator LG Electronics has received high praise from the toxic trade watchdog group Basel Action Network for ensuring that none of LG’s e-waste is exported to developing countries.

BAN applauded LG Electronics USA for confirming that all of its customer take-back programs and all of its own office equipment is recycled responsibly through certified e-Stewards® recyclers. LG is even in the process of certifying its own Service Center under the e-Stewards program.

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Following Watchdog Efforts, E-waste Recycling Company Executives to be Jailed for Exporting Toxic E-waste

In the wake of significant prison sentences of 14 and 30 months being handed down by U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez against the executives Tor Olson and Brandon Richter of Denver, Colorado's Executive, the toxic trade watchdog group, Basel Action Network, thanked the US Environmental Protection Agency and Homeland Security for their diligent prosecution. BAN warned consumers that the crime of e-waste exportation remains all too common. 

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Developing Countries Rally to Prevent Industry Efforts to Exempt E-waste from Trade Controls

Developing countries joined forces this week to defeat attempts by electronic equipment manufacturers represented by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and industrialized powers including the European Union, US, Japan, and Canada to create loopholes that would allow repairable electronic waste to be exempt from the international Basel Convention hazardous waste trade control procedures.

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Electronics Industry Lobbies to Classify E-waste as Non-waste to Allow Export to Developing Countries

At this week’s meeting of the Basel Convention – an international treaty designed to protect developing countries from international toxic waste dumping -- computer and other electronic equipment manufacturers are pressing hard for exemptions from established controls on the export of electronic waste or e-waste. The proposed exemptions would allow untested or non-functional electronic waste, often containing toxic lead, cadmium, mercury and brominated flame retardants to be considered a non-waste and subject to free-trade in many circumstances so long as the exporter can claim that that the old equipment might be ‘repairable’. 

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Long Outlawed in the West, Lead Paint Sold in Poor Nations

For years now, Perry Gottesfeld has been globe-trotting in search of lead paints. These have been banned for decades from U.S. and European buildings because they poison children as they deteriorate. But as Gottesfeld, executive director of the U.S.-based NGO Occupational Knowledge International, and others have been showing, there’s still plenty of lead paint for sale in developing nations. 

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European Shipowners dumped 365 Toxic Ships on South Asian Beaches Last Year

A record-breaking number 365 toxic-laden ships were sent for breaking by European shipowners to the beaches of South Asia in 2012, according to a list released today by the NGO Shipbreaking Platform, a global coalition of environmental, human rights and labor rights organisations working for safe and sustainable ship recycling. This number represents a 75% increase from 2011, when 210 EU-owned ships were sent for breaking in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

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EU ship recycling proposal illegal, ministers told

The draft regulation implementing the Hong Kong convention on ship recycling would breach EU obligations under international waste shipment rules, environment ministers have been told ahead of their 25 October meeting.

In a letter to member states' permanent representations in Brussels, the NGO Shipbreaking Platform warned that the European Commission's proposal from March would in effect remove the vast majority of end-of-life ships from the 2006 regulation implementing the Basel convention on hazardous waste shipments.

Under the Basel convention, exports of hazardous waste from OECD to non-OECD countries are banned. This includes end-of-life vessels containing toxic substances.

"The commission proposal constitutes a unilateral departure from the [Basel] provisions that is not allowed by the convention," said professor Ludwig Kraemer, an EU legal expert from NGO ClientEarth who once advised the EU executive's environment department on legal matters.

Under the proposal, owners of large commercial ships would have to keep a certified inventory of any hazardous materials such as asbestos, PCBs, and oil sludge onboard, and reduce their levels before the ship is recycled. The ships would have to be dismantled in an EU-approved facility inside or outside of Europe.

It will be discussed by environment ministers on 25 October. In a compromise text, the previous Danish presidency proposed that the draft regulation should apply two years after its publication rather than one year as proposed by the commission.

But the council text, which is now in the hands of Cyprus, introduces some improvements compared with the commission's proposal. For example, the publication of a European list of recycling facilities would be brought forward.

In a related development, an IMO committee has adopted two sets of guidelines regarding the Hong Kong convention. One deals with the certification of ships while the other covers inspections. They will help recycling facilities and shipping firms comply with the convention, although it has not yet entered force.

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Letter to permanent representations







Electronics Recycler Convicted for Illegal Exports to Developing Countries

A trial by jury convicted Executive Recycling, formerly of Englewood, Colorado and two of its top executives in a Denver Federal Court this morning for illegally exporting hazardous waste electronics to developing countries. Executives Tor Olson and Brandon Richter were convicted of criminal charges for illegal export of hazardous waste, smuggling, obstruction of justice, and wire and mail fraud. Brandon Richter was the former owner and CEO of Executive, an electronics recycler that also had locations in Utah and Nebraska. Executive Recycling has since changed its name to Techcycle. The charges came after the Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic trade watchdog organization, observed and photographed 20 seagoing containers leaving the Executive Recycling loading docks and tracked them overseas. BAN then gave the information to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Enforcement, the Government Accountability Office, and CBS News. Executive Recycling was then featured in a sting type investigation on CBS News' 60 Minutes in an episode entitled “The Wasteland” which followed one of Executive's containers to China with BAN's Executive Director Jim Puckett. Following that episode, EPA Enforcement and Homeland Security Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), indicted Executive Recycling on 16 criminal counts. BAN claims that the export activities of the company are still a very common practice in North America and most often companies get away with it.

This conviction is very welcome, but sadly as we speak, there are many hundreds of other fake recyclers out there that are loading up Asian-bound containers full of our old toxic TVs and computers,” said Puckett. “Every day about 100 containers of toxic e-waste arrive in the Port of Hong Kong alone. We hope this conviction sends a very strong message to business and the public that they should only use the most responsible recyclers.

To help the public make good choices for their electronic waste (e-waste), BAN joined forces with business leaders to create the e-Stewards Certification program. e-Stewards is the only electronic recycling certification program that ensures through annual audits that companies will never export hazardous wastes electronics to developing countries. Areas like Guiyu township in China have been seriously contaminated by toxic e-waste imports. Lead levels in the blood of children there are some of the highest in the world.

BAN also maintains that clear and strict legislation is needed to make such export activity explicitly illegal in the United States as it is in the rest of the world. According to BAN, prosecuting the Executive case was very difficult for the government as they were forced to make their case using fraud, smuggling, and other charges, as the environmental export laws we have are vague and ineffective. BAN has joined forces with the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, as well as the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) in support of the bipartisan Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, which, if passed, will bring the US in compliance with international Basel Convention decisions forbidding export of hazardous electronic waste to developing countries.

Executive Recycling was caught this time,” Puckett said, “but it has been almost impossible for the government to prosecute this kind of very common activity due to a lack of appropriate legislation. If we can pass the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act in Congress we could put a quick halt to the horrors of criminal waste trafficking.