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.


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. 


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. 


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."