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 and warned consumers that the crime of e-waste exportation remains all too common.
“Sadly, the two Denver executives that made a fortune exploiting the environment and workers health in developing countries, represent just a sample of the US toxic e-waste flood flowing offshore,” said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett. “There are many hundreds of similar ‘charlatan recyclers’ operating in every US city every day – all of them pretending to protect the environment while simply filling up sea-going containers of your old TVs, printers, phones and computers.”
BAN was responsible for providing evidence of Executive's exports when they photographed and then tracked 20 sea-going containers leaving Executive's facility making their way to developing countries. BAN then passed the information to CBS's 60 Minutes and EPA enforcement. The company then became the centerpiece of the award winning 60 Minutes episode, The Electronic Wasteland. In the program, Executive's Brandon Richter accused CBS's Scott Pelley of “attacking small business owners,” when Pelley confronted him with the truth.
To provide consumers with a safe and responsible solution, BAN created the e-Stewards®Certification program. E-Stewards recyclers and refurbishers refuse to externalize real costs and harm to those least able to deal with it and are audited yearly to demonstrate compliance to the rigorous e-Stewards Standard. e-Stewards recyclers will not export hazardous used electronics unless they are fully functional as is required under the Basel Convention, an international treaty governing waste trade now adopted by over 170 countries.
The e-Stewards Standard is the only electronics certification that comports with international law and is therefore supported by more than 70 environmental organizations. It is also supported by over 50 major companies including Staples, Bank of America, Bloomberg, Wells Fargo, Nestle, Samsung, LG, Boeing and Alcoa. BAN urges all electronics users to only make use of Certified e-Stewards Recyclers and not to be lulled by the green promises of other certifications or claims purporting recycling responsibility. For consumers having difficulty finding an e-Stewards Recycler, the retailer Staples promises to take any e-waste you deliver to them in the US, to an e-Stewards recycler.
Likewise BAN is calling for support for the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA), sponsored by Congressmen Gene Green of Texas and Jim Thompson of California, and introduced today in Congress. RERA will unequivocally prohibit the unsustainable export of toxic electronic waste that Executive was found to be conducting often in the name of “reuse” and “helping the poor.” According to BAN, without clear laws, prosecution such as that achieved this time against Executive Recycling is difficult. Often, as in this case, prosecutors had to prove fraud as existent environmental trade rules are fraught with loopholes. The RERA would rectify that and is already supported by over 100 American electronics recyclers (CAER) as well as by electronics retailers such as Best Buy, and manufacturers such as Samsung, Apple, HP and Dell.
For those consumers wishing to do the right thing with their e-waste, BAN has the following tips: a) Only use e-Stewards Certified recyclers or refurbishers; b) contact your Congressman to support the RERA.
“Sooner or later everybody has e-waste,” said Puckett. “So everybody has the responsibility and opportunity to ensure that the recyclers they use are certified to the highest levels of integrity and environmental protection. At the same time, we can ask our representatives to support laws that ensure that the costs of toxic products are internalized by American businesses, and not simply dumped on foreign shores.”