Taking the first formal step toward “spinning-off” their electronics recycling certification initiative, the Basel Action Network (BAN) today released a “request for qualifications” (RFQ) document seeking a company to independently administer the e-Stewards Certification program. The e-Stewards® Certification is the only Certification that prevents the export of hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) to developing countries.
It will also allow BAN to pursue new reforms, continue to promote its current initiatives, and advance global trade policy.
“BAN has changed the face of our industry with its research and investigations. Independent management of its landmark e-Stewards certification will both allow the program to grow in a business environment and allow BAN to focus on the advocacy it does so effectively,” says Robert Houghton, president of Redemtech, an IT asset disposition firm and one of the founders (initial funders) of the e-Stewards Initiative.
With today’s announcement, BAN is seeking qualified for-profit or non-profit organizations that can manage the e-Stewards Standard and Certification program globally. The job of the management organization will include overseeing the quality control of the entire accredited certification program, providing services to the growing community of e-Stewards Certified recyclers, and updating and maintaining the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Electronic Equipment®.
BAN created the e-Stewards Standard and Certification in 2010 at the bequest of many recycling leaders after another standard – R2 Practices, negotiated in an EPA-led process—resulted in a standard deemed too weak to halt serious abuses taking place in the industry. BAN has since incorporated all of the R2 requirements into its e-Stewards Standard and has added more elements that are critical for ensuring responsible recycling. The US Environmental Protection Agency recognized and credited the e-Stewards program in 2011. Currently, 106 facilities in four countries have been certified or are in the process.
“There remains a crying need to provide customers for electronics recyclers with assurances that their old TV, computer or cell phone will in fact be recycled properly here at home and not simply be dumped in the rice paddies in China or be burned by children in Ghana,” says Jim Puckett, Executive Director of BAN. “We have launched a program to identify and certify the good guys. We will now turn our attention to ensuring that every US consumer and company demands that their e-waste is only handled by the recycling industry’s great leaders and not the great pretenders.”
BAN estimates that 50% to 80% of those companies calling themselves e-waste recyclers in North America are actually waste exporters, sending our hazardous e-waste to countries that lack the standards and infrastructure to properly handle it. In 2008, BAN worked with CBS’s 60 Minutes to expose one Denver-area e-waste exporter – Executive Recycling – whose executives now face 16 counts of criminal charges for fraud and violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Last year, BAN released even more evidence allegedly showing that a Chicago-area recycler – Intercon Solutions – exported its customers’ hazardous e-waste to China. e-Stewards subsequently denied Intercon Solution’s request to become e-Stewards Certified, but to this day, Intercon Solutions remains R2 Certified.
The deadline for responses to the RFQ for management of the e-Stewards Certification is July 15, 2012. BAN will notify applicants of any decisions taken by September 1, 2012.