Economy

Executive Recycling responses to 60 Minutes

A couple of days ago I posted a 60 Minutes segment that shows how illegal e-waste recycling work, with Colorado-based Executive Recycling (ER) as exhibit A. ER has since posted two responses to the 60 Minutes piece on their website, but later removed the first. Thanks to the miracle of Google’s cache system (and some concerned readers who have emailed us over the last few days), I have posted below the link to the cached page, released originally on November 14, the day after the 60 Minutes piece ran, and the text contained therein.

E.R. Response to 60 Minutes Report November 2008

Executive Recycling is a respected and law abiding business that recycles computers and electronic parts in a responsible and lawful way. Our company has reviewed the recent report of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the 60 Minutes story on E-Waste and we agree on the dangers of unregulated disposal of electronic and computer waste.

Executive Recycling is well aware of every applicable environmental and export standard and has complied throughout its history with such laws, rules and regulations. Our company takes in tons of computer and electronic products and disposes of them responsibly. Many such items are refurbished and resold. Executive Recycling would not sell anything to any purchaser if it had knowledge that said buyer planned to break the law. However, no business can be responsible for the subsequent improper actions of others who lawfully purchase products from them and hide their intentions to engage in misconduct.

Sadly, Executive Recycling appears now to be the victim of others who have obtained electronic and computer products from our company and then acted irresponsibly. These buyers apparently sought to hide their own misconduct by leaving the impression that their shipment was the responsibility of our company. We have discovered that forged documents (provided by the port authorities) were used to improperly shift blame to us when ER sold the tested working units to a Canadian wholesale buyer. We are currently seeking legal actions against this one wholesale buyer in regards to this report.

Executive Recycling urges the Environmental Protection Agency and the government of the United States and other civilized societies to prepare and enact further laws and regulations to make sure that no individuals or environments are damaged through irresponsible disposal of computer or electronic products. Executive Recycling has cooperated with the Environmental Protection Agency in the past and will continue to do so in an effort to see that humans and the environment are protected. (Source, for however long Google will keep it cached)

It is my suspicion that this was likely removed on the recommendation of ER’s lawyers, but in this day and age of distributed caching of websites, simply removing the post from your own doesn’t actually remove much.

Yesterday, ER released two emails on their site as a further followup to the 60 Minutes piece. I’ve reproduced those emails below as well, in case ER chooses to take down this press release as well:

From: Tere Blake [mailto:tere@ocf.ca]
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 4:54 PM
To: Brandon Richter
Cc: tolson@executiverecycle.com; Peter Hilton
Subject: RE: Booking # 877033521

Hi Brandon

Yes we saw the 60 minutes segment. We were surprised they did not delve into who actually arranged the shipment of the container. They did not contact us which is surprising as we were named on the B/L as the notify party.

BC Ltd have simply ceased operations and its principals are untraceable.

Attached is the booking confirmation sent to Karen Zhang . According to our records we had no communications with Executive Recycling prior to the container being loaded. As such we would not have been in a position to advise you that the container was destined for Hong Kong.

I hope this assists,
Rgds Tere Blake
OCF Vancouver

From: Brandon Richter [mailto:brandon_richter@executiverecycle.com]
Sent: Monday, November 17, 2008 3:35 PM
To: Tere Blake
Cc: tolson@executiverecycle.com
Subject: Booking # 877033521

Tere,

I wanted to find out if there was anything you could send me on email that shows Executive Recycling did not order the transportation for this booking. Not sure if you saw the 60 minutes segment on E-waste but they tracked this container from Karen Zhang into Hong Kong, and they are saying that we exported this material to Hong Kong without giving proper notification to the Honk Kong government. I’m trying to provide the media, and businesses with information that will clear our name from doing this export.

Any help you can provide on this would be great. Thank you, Brandon Richter

S&R received leaked copies of these emails but were unable to verify that they were accurate at the time and so chose not to release them publicly.

These emails are proof of neither guilt nor innocence on the part of Executive Recycling. The emails are circumstantial evidence at best and are almost certainly an attempt by ER’s public relations department to partially mitigate the legal and PR nightmare that the 60 Minutes piece has certainly become for them.

ER’s best hope in this situation is probably to ride it out and assist the EPA’s investigation, as well as any other investigations into illegal dumping that appears to implicate them, as much as possible. The only thing that will clean up their public image is a finding that they are not, in fact, responsible for the shipping container mentioned in 60 Minutes, or any other containers either. If ER is found not to have broken any laws, I will certainly report so on this website, just as I will report it if they’re brought up on charges as a result of any ongoing investigations.

Thank you to the multiple individuals who have kept me up to date on developments in this story. If anyone has additional information, please feel free to post it in the comments below or to submit it to S&R via the “Contact Us” link in the nav bar above. S&R has very limited resources to verify the accuracy of anonymous or apparently leaked information, and we prefer to err on the side of caution in such situations by not posting or releasing it. If you have such information, please provide a way to someone here at S&R verify it’s accuracy as well.

11 replies »

  1. The Basel Action Network (Ban.org) reported the they tracked 21 containers from Nov 07 to Mar 09 from Executive Recycling operation to several desinations across the world. 10 containers were stopped and 8 of 10 were found to be full of illegal contents. 7 of the 10 were sent back to the US. This is their business model.

    sent from: fav.or.it [FID3193148]

  2. John, unfortunately after spending a decent amount of time searching the BAN.org website, I cannot find proof of your claim. If you have proof of your claim, I’d very much like to see it.

  3. The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching. This is a quote from Jay Basbee, John Wooden, or maybe it was Spider-Man. Whoever said it, it still holds true and I hope Brandon Richter is reading this. As for John’s post on 11/19/08 regarding the number of containers the BAN org tracked from Executive Recycling is rather suspicious. If an executive of BAN is reading this, please let us hear the facts as they stand, This is only my opinion but it sounds to me like John has a major ax to grind with Exec. Rec. and is probably a major competitor of Exec. Rec. in the Denver Market. Perhaps you are with Guaranteed Recycling Experts or Electronics Recycling. Whoever you are, if you are going to make an assertion, please back it up with legitimate evidence.

  4. Dear Mark et al:

    Yes BAN tracked 20 containers from Executive Recycling this year. All of them went to developing countries 8 of them were seized by the authorities in the receiving countries as contraband (illegal traffic). The Denver press has been negligent in reporting all of the facts in the case. Only the Denver Business Journal reported the facts about all of these containers. It is clear to us that export to developing countries of e-scrap is a significant aspect of ER’s business model. We have also confronted ER about these containers and have asked them to come clean on the facts regarding these. We are still waiting.

    Jim Puckett, Executive Director, BAN

  5. Thank you, Jim. Until I came across the Denver Business Journal piece last week, I hadn’t realized that BAN had actually done this. I chose to ask for verification from John since I’m always cautious about accepting comments at face value. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t provide a link to the Denver Business Journal piece – that would have been good enough for me.

  6. Your readers may be interested in some of the follow-up to the original 60 Minutes story. As a result of the GOA report on which that story was based, the City of Denver became concerned enough to audit the company. The results of that audit (which I have only heard about) so concerned the City of Denver that they dropped their contract with ER immediately at it’s expiration. A more intersting episode took place this past Friday (January 23) on which date Executive was raided by both the EPA and ICE (mostly the customs enforcement aspect…though they did nab 4 illegal aliens). Every major television station was there to cover all the activity, which included EPA and Customs officials carting away box after box of records. Seems Brandon’s problems just won’t end. It will be interesting to see what those agency’s forensic document experts come up with.

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