After an 11 day trial, executives of the Executive Recycling, Inc, owner Brandon Richter of Highlands Ranch and the operations manager and vice president, Tor Olsen of Parker were convicted today on mail and wire fraud, environmental crimes, smuggling and obstruction. Sentencing will happen in April of 2013. They are facing up to 20 years in prison and up to $4 million in fines.
Executive Recycling, Inc. collected electronics with the claim that they would be refurbished or recycled properly. Instead they were found guilty of illegally exporting the electronic waste. This case began more than 4 years ago with an EPA investigation and with a CBS 60 Minutes edition which followed a shipment from Englewood to Hong Kong. This all led to the involvement of the US Attorney Generals office. Richter and Olsen were indicted in September of 2011.
Electronics recycling has not been a strictly regulated industry, however that is all changing. It is estimated that between 40,000 and 161,000 ton of used electronics are thrown out each year and only 8,000 ton recycled.
In February of 2012 Republican Representative Don Coram, sponsored Senate Bill 12-133. The bill prohibits the disposal of certain consumer electronic devices in landfills, effective by a date established by the solid and hazardous waste commission. Disposal in landfills located in communities that are not well-served by electronic device recycling facilities may be exempted from the ban. Beginning July 1, 2013, state agencies must arrange for the recycling of such devices with a certified recycler. The department of public health and environment must coordinate with existing public and private efforts pertaining to the development and implementation of a public education program regarding electronic device recycling. This bill was signed by the Governor on April 20, 2012.
While it has been for many years, and continues to be, illegal for industry, businesses, government agencies, institutions and schools to dispose of any electronics waste that exhibits one or more characteristics of hazardous waste in municipal solid waste landfills, Senate Bill 12-133 bans landfill disposal of certain electronic wastes from all sources, even residential. Under limited conditions, a Board of County Commissioners may vote to temporarily exempt its residents from the ban. A stakeholder process will be used to develop revisions to Section 16 of the Regulations Pertaining to Solid Waste Sites and Facilities to incorporate these requirements. To broaden the scope of Section 16, it is proposed to be renamed “Materials Prohibited from Disposal.”
Included in the definitions of electronics recycling products are not just computers. An extensive list of items such as monitoring equipment, household electronics and appliances, medical equipment, scanning systems, traffic control equipment and dozens more is spelled out in the new law. Recyclers will now have to provide certification of the proper handling of materials. Enforcement of these new requirements will be the key to preventing another federal case like that with Executive Recyclers, Inc.
It will take time for the CDPHE Hazardous Waste Divison to arrange for the implementation of these new requirements as well as the additional requirement of public education. Information on recycling of electronic waste is available from the website. A draft of the Section 16 changes from November 2, 2012 is available on the website as well.