uncovers toxic e-waste exports by Chicago electronics recycler
Shipping container from Intercon Solutions tracked to China
The Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic watchdog
group, said that Chicago Heights, Illinois electronics recycler
Intercon Solutions will be the first company denied the e-Stewards
certification, which is available to electronics recyclers that
can demonstrate that they operate in a truly responsible manner.
BAN’s denial was based on “compelling evidence” that Intercon
Solutions had been engaged in exporting hazardous electronic
waste to China.
Intercon Solutions has boasted in brochures and on its website
that it does not export any used electronics entrusted to it
for recycling. However, on two separate occasions, BAN investigators
photographed and tracked containers of electronic waste leaving
property leased by Intercon Solutions in Chicago Heights on its
way to China.
BAN had alerted Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department.
As the same for any other cases, given the shipment contained
hazardous waste, they subsequently required that the shipment
be returned to the United States. Hong Kong law forbids the importation
of hazardous waste electronics such as cathode ray tubes (CRTs
and batteries). Further, the import by developing countries of
such wastes from the United States is also illegal under the
United Nations’ Basel Convention.
“It is very sad that many e-Waste recycling companies continue
to pose as ‘responsible recyclers’ while they continue to export
toxic waste,” said Basel Action Network’s executive director,
Jim Puckett. “In this case, we can take some satisfaction that
our e-Stewards Certification screening methods and audit caught
what BAN has every reason to believe is a violator.”
The final decision by BAN to deny the certification took place
only after an on-site audit had been conducted and after direct
discussions between BAN and Intercon Solutions failed to convince
BAN that Intercon Solutions had not exported the toxic containers.
Such export is a violation of the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible
Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment, and is likely also
to violate the importation laws of Hong Kong, the US federal
Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Illinois State
Law governing the conduct of registered electronics recyclers.
In addition to the e-Stewards Certification, BAN and the Electronics
TakeBack Coalition strongly support the recently introduced Responsible
Electronics Recycling Act, which prohibits the export of toxic
electronic wastes to developing countries. The bill was introduced
recently in the House and the Senate.