BAN 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.