SEATTLE, WA, Sept. 14, 2017 – Following their exposé last year entitled “Scam Recycling” employing 205 GPS tracking devices placed inside electronic waste to find out what happens to it, the Basel Action Network (BAN) has released new findings in a short 15 page report. Their most recent data reveals 16 more instances of exports to developing countries involving 7 companies, most of which make public claims of never allowing the electronics they process to be exported.
“Our GPS tracking devices continue to serve as lie detectors for an industry that far too often lives a lie, cloaking themselves in green and using the word “recycling” as a shameful shield,” said BAN director Jim Puckett.
e-Wastes that are exported to developing countries end up being smashed, burned or treated with dangerous chemicals. Desperate migrant workers unaware of the hazards, are exposed to harmful chemicals such as mercury and lead as they break apart the old computers, printers and monitors. Wastes that cannot be readily recycled are dumped in waysides and fields. Such were the conditions BAN found last year in Hong Kong’s New Territories where most of the trackers are going.
The latest tracker discoveries show that Goodwill Industries (Oxford, Michigan) continues to allow the export of the electronics they receive from the public despite policies not to do so. Further, several more US Recyclers including California based recyclers: All-Green (Tustin), Attan Recycling (Chino), IQA Metals (Chino), Tri-Valley (Stockton) as well Great Lakes Electronics (Warren, Michigan), and Compucycle (Houston, Texas), were all companies targeted by the GPS deliveries that were found to be part of a “chain of export” that led to exports to Asia.
The wastes reported this time included one printer and 15 LCD screens laden with toxic mercury. These were sent to Hong Kong, mainland China, and the Philippines. Exportation of these hazardous electronics wastes to Asian countries does not violate US law but does violate international law (Basel Convention) and the laws of the importing countries. The exports also violate the companies’ own stated policies declared on their websites making these companies vulnerable to fraud charges.
Despite the lack of national legislation forbidding most hazardous waste exportation, BAN’s past citizen enforcement activities have so far resulted in one federal criminal conviction (Executive Recycling, Denver, CO), and four ongoing criminal investigations or indictments (Total Reclaim, Seattle, WA; Diversified Recycling, Norcross, GA; Intercon Solutions, Chicago Heights, IL; and Stone Castle Recycling, Utah), all for fraudulent or illegal exports of e-waste.
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As a solution to the problem of widespread electronic recycling fraud, BAN has created the e-Stewards Certification. This Certification for ethical recyclers is an alternative to the more easily attained “R2” Certification which allows exports even when they are likely to be illegal in importing countries. BAN has begun to use GPS tracking devices routinely in their e-Stewards verification program to better assure program integrity. Of the 7 companies involved in this latest report, two were R2 certified and 5 were uncertified.
“We urge businesses and consumers alike, to prevent harmful global dumping and use only e-Steward Certified Recyclers,” said Puckett.
Founded in 1997, the Basel Action Network is a 501(c)3 charitable organization of the United States, based in Seattle, WA. BAN is the world’s only organization focused on confronting the global environmental justice and economic inefficiency of toxic trade and its devastating impacts. Today, BAN serves as the information clearinghouse on the subject of waste trade for journalists, academics, and the general public. Through its investigations, BAN uncovered the tragedy of hazardous electronic waste dumping in developing countries. For more information, see www.BAN.org or blog.BAN.org.