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Fake Recycler Convicted of Criminal Charges for E-Waste Exporting

December 22nd, 2012

Executive Recycling’s fake recycling was featured in a 60 Minutes episode in 2008.

A federal court in Colorado today convicted the executives of Executive Recycling, formerly of Englewood, Colorado, of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, obstruction and environmental crimes related to illegally disposing electronic waste and smuggling. Electronics Recycler Convicted for Illegal Exports  to Developing Countries

This company was featured in the 2008 CBS News’ 60 Minutes Episode, “Electronic Wasteland,” on how e-waste from the U.S. is collected by companies claiming to be recyclers, who instead load it up on containers and ship it to developing nations.  Like many fake recycelrs, Executive Recycling promoted itself as an environmentally responsible company.

The charges came after the Basel Action Network (BAN), a toxic trade watchdog organization, which is a member of our Coalition,  observed and photographed 20 seagoing containers leaving the Executive Recycling loading docks and tracked them overseas. BAN then gave the information to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Enforcement, the Government Accountability Office, and CBS News.

The 60 Minutes team followed one of Executive’s containers to China with BAN’s Executive Director Jim Puckett. Following that episode, investigations by EPA Enforcement,  Homeland Security,  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the U.S. Attorney led to an indictment of Executive Recycling on 16 criminal counts, and eventually to today’s conviction

We applaud the federal government for mounting this investigation and pursuing this lawsuit.  This practice of fake recycling is all too common in the U.S., and most of them get away with it.  While exporting e-waste to China and other developing countries is common, it’s unusual for most fake recyclers to be brought to court, because much of their activity is perfectly legal under U.S. law. Because Executive Recycling was exporting Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) TVs and monitors, they violated the one regulation on the books (the CRT rule) pertaining to e-waste exports from the U.S.  According to Homeland Security, Executive Recycling exported over 100,000 CRTs from the United States between 2005 and 2008. Because of the company’s particular behavior, prosecutors were able to add charges of obstruction of justice, and wire and mail fraud, in addition to environmental violations.

But it wouldn’t take such a monumental effort by the EPA, Homeland Security, ICE, and the U.S. Attorney to stop fake recyclers like this if we passed legislation, like what most of the rest of the world has, that would make this kind of global e-waste dumping illegal. Such legislation was introduced in this past Congress as the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act, and is expected to be reintroduced in the new Congressional session next year.

Until such time as we pass legislation to solve this problem, your best option is to choose a recycler that is certified to the e-Stewards standards, which prohibit exporting toxic e-waste to developing nations.

Read about other fake recyclers here.