According to a press release issued by the Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN), the electronics recycling company Intercon Solutions, Chicago Heights, Ill., has been denied the organization’se-Stewards certification. BAN says the denial was based on “compelling evidence” that Intercon Solutions had been engaged in exporting hazardous electronic scrap to China.
In response, Intercon has rejected the accusations that it was the party shipping the hazardous material and has filed a petition in the Circuit Court of Cook County (Ill.) against CMA CGM, the U.S. agent for the French shipping line CMA, the line on which the load in question was shipped.
The petition seeks to reveal the identity of the party that shipped the load. Intercon contends that it was not involved with the shipment of material.
Cathy Pilkington, an attorney representing Intercon Solutions, says the claims by BAN “are completely false. Intercon is not a customer of the shipping line.” Pilkington adds, “We deny that it is our shipment.”
To identify the person or persons who engaged in the shipment of the hazardous materials load, Intercon is requesting that the court have the shipping agency furnish all documentation to identify the name, address, phone number of the trucking company and/or railway line that transported the suspect containers, the identity of the ocean shipper and the customs broker who authorized the export of ocean freight, the identity of the intended recipient of the container and the party that was to pay the shipping costs.
In its press release, BAN says Intercon Solutions has claimed that it does not export used electronics entrusted to it for recycling. However, on two separate occasions, BAN investigators say they photographed and tracked containers of electronic scrap leaving property leased by Intercon Solutions for transport to China. BAN says it alerted the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department. Given that the shipment allegedly contained hazardous waste, The Hong King Environmental Protection Department subsequently required that the shipment be returned to the U.S.
In its court filing, Intercon says that because of a press release issues by BAN identifying the company as the alleged shipper, the electronics recycling company was immediately delisted as a certified Responsible Recycling Practices- (R2-) certified electronics recycler and has suffered damage to its reputation.
Hong Kong law forbids the importation of hazardous electronic scrap, such as cathode ray tubes. Further, the import by developing countries of such wastes from the United States is also illegal under the United Nations’ Basel Convention. The Basel Convention is an international treaty that regulates international movements of hazardous waste. In 1994 the Basel Convention members decided to forbid such exports from developed countries to developing countries; however, the United States has not ratified the treaty.
“It is very sad that many e-waste recycling companies continue to pose as ‘responsible recyclers’ while they continue to export toxic,” says Jim Puckett, BAN executive director. “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 after an on-site audit had been conducted and after direct discussions between BAN and Intercon Solutions failed to convince BAN that the company had not exported the toxic materials. Such export is a violation of the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment and also is likely to violate the importation laws of Hong Kong, the U.S. Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Illinois state law governing the conduct of registered electronics recyclers.
In response to these allegations, Pilkington says BAN should have done its homework. “We are asking BAN where the documentation is.” Once the company is able to obtain the information on the paperwork showing who the actual shipper was, we will take it to BAN and show it to them to prove they are wrong. They would then withdraw the findings.”
The case is scheduled to be heard July 19, 2011.