After an 11 day jury trial in Denver, the executives at Executive Recycling were convicted of illegal disposal of e-waste overseas, mail and wire fraud, and smuggling and obstruction of justice. Computerworld reported that Executive Recycling falsely advertised customers that old computers, PDAs, TVs and other electronic waste would disposed of electronic waste in compliance with all local, state and federal laws and regulations.
But after CBS 60 Minutes reporters followed shipments from Denver to Hong Kong they broadcast their report in 2009. The illegal content sent to Hong Kong ultimately made its way to southern China – a sort of Chernobyl of electronic waste – the town of Guiyu. 60 minutes reported:
Greenpeace has been filming around Guiyu and caught the recycling work. Women were heating circuit boards over a coal fire, pulling out chips and pouring off the lead solder. Men were using what is literally a medieval acid recipe to extract gold. Pollution has ruined the town. Drinking water is trucked in. Scientists have studied the area and discovered that Guiyu has the highest levels of cancer-causing dioxins in the world. They found pregnancies are six times more likely to end in miscarriage, and that seven out of ten kids have too much lead in their blood.
The evidence at trial from the Department of Justice was that Executive Recycling exported more than 300 exports from the U.S. between 2005 and 2008, and approximately 160 of these exported cargo containers contained CRTs. Sentencing is scheduled for April, 2013.
One may wonder if this is just the tip of the iceberg of toxic IT waste purportedly being recycled?