BAN Targets Target

In a press release today, Basel Action Network, the "watchdog that barks at everyone and everything" re-publishes their tired estimates that about 80 percent of what consumers deliver to "e-waste" or electronic scrap recycling programs is exported to developing countries.

BAN repeatedly states that 80% of USA material is exported, and that 75% of those exports are environmentally damaging.

Both statements are untrue.

By extension, BAN implies that if Target Stores do not tell BAN who their electronics recycling company is, that Target is doing something wrong.  The intention is to hurt sales at Target, and to scare other manufacturers and retailers into using a set of vendors who pay money to the watchdog BAN to "audit them".  Meanwhile, BAN has published a list of their own "e-Stewards" which they had never themselves audited, most of whom were sending CRT glass (properly! in a manner good for the environment) to Samsung Corning glass-to-glass recycling in Malaysia.  (BAN has stated that I have no proof that their e-stewards were exporting CRT glass to Malaysia or working product to refurbishing factories).

No one doubts that I have my facts straight.  No one doubts that BAN issues press releases based on innuendo and misleading, made-up statistics.  Where companies like mine are on the fence, it is who is our bigger threat - USA companies which export improperly, or BAN?

My company exports to our Las Chicas Bravas factory in Mexico, and to our audited ISO14001 permitted remanufacturing takeback partner (and former computer monitor manufacturer) in Malaysia.   I don't like that other recyclers under -charge and send junk as "toxics along for the ride", and I used to appreciate BAN for creating barriers to that practice.  But over the past few years, BAN has spent most of their time targeting good people - Dave Dlubak, Samsung Corning in Klang Malaysia, PT Imtech of Indonesia, EPA's Robert Tonetti, Unicor, and now the Target company.

BAN's lack of transparency is troubling.

  • BAN has written the government of Malaysia to protest proper recycling of CRT glass in a glass-to-glass process at Samsung Malaysia (turning CRT glass into new TVs), falsely alleging that most of the CRT glass contained cadmium phosphors (cadmium was a rare earth metal used in some color CRTs in the 1960s). 
  • BAN has attacked Dlubak Glass for properly recycling the bad glass which is properly removed from the very export loads which BAN claimed contained the bad CRTs which Dlubak Glass was domestically recycling.
  • BAN has written the government of Indonesia claiming that CRTs sent to a contract manufacturing plant for refurbishment were "hazardous waste", causing 9 containerloads to be returned to the USA at a cost and disruption to both the refurbishing factory and to the USA EPA and Homeland Security office.
  • BAN has written an opinion piece in a trade journal which basically stated that the repair and refurbishing operations which I have posted film and pictures of on this blog and other websites are "poisoning people" in other countries.
  • BAN has viciously attacked EPA for its standard of considering working and repairable computers exported in compliance with Basel Convention Annex IX to be commodities, not wastes.  The Basel Convention itself explicitly states that parties "may consider these items commodities and not wastes". 
  • BAN has made a presentation to African officials in Accra misleading them to believe that the Basel Convention requires tested working product, rather than "export for repair and refurbishment".

Hear this:  BAN has no written evidence for either of their statements, that 80% is exported, or that 75% of exports are bad.  They make it up.   See the highlighted segment of their press release below... "According to BAN, ...BAN estimates that..."  They cite themselves as a reference.  NO data.

BAN led CBS 60 Minutes reporters away from the Guangdong computer monitor refurbishing plant to a site in Guiyu which does not take or accept computer monitors.  CBS got a Peabody award despite having photographic evidence that the CRTs in Hong Kong went to a professional refurbishing factory.  Now everyone is afraid of BAN.

I believe less than 80% of material collected is exported unprocessed (if you include clean scrap steel and glass-to-glass CRT recycling, it's possible) and that far, far less than 75% of those exports are bad.  Every week, I post photographic and written evidence of our end markets.  

I have no idea who Target is using as a vendor.  It could be proper exports, it could be 30% improper export, it could be all domestic.  What they are being accused of is not telling BAN where their market is.  Given BAN's attacks on my company, on Dlubak, on EPA, on repair factories overseas, and on the glass-to-glass end markets which their very own "e-Stewards" have been using, who can blame Target?

BAN is responsible for California SB20 destruction of millions and millions of dollars in working video display devices.  They have spurned our invitations to sit down with the United Nations and CA officials to promote export of working product to people who need these to get online affordably.  These guys are loose cannons.  No wonder no one at Target will answer their question.

BAN volunteers have probably called me and my own company, fishing for evidence they can use to slam us with false accusations.  They are probably buying repairable product through domestic sources to re-export it and accuse me of being the exporter of bad product.  Meanwhile, one of their e-stewards is offering to recycle from all of my clients at a predatory price of 1 cent per pound, which puts enormous pressure on my company to cut corners.

Jim Puckett and Sarah Westervelt at BAN have fooled CBS, they have fooled National Geographic, they have fooled African import regulators.  They put financial pressure on companies like mine to cut corners, then ask my company to pay them money.  They are bullies, and they have stopped being misinformed - they know that factory refurbishing is legal - and now have crossed the line by reporting containerloads contain waste material they have not seen.   The GAO Report which BAN repeatedly cites does back up some of BAN's claims, but also clearly stops short of the conclusions BAN jumps to.  The main problem with that report was that they offered to pay more for broken CRTs than the market would ever pay for, which created a false impression that fake recycling could reach 80% levels based on free market prices - we have shown that more than 50% junk is almost impossible to export based on the cost of shipping alone.  BAN claims that repairable products which contain a non-working part sent back to a manufacturer (e.g., under warranty back to the same place that made it) is an example of "toxic waste export", and that CRT glass shipped back to a CRT glass maker for remelting is a "toxic waste export" - those are the only ways they can approach the 80% export numbers they claim.

In the past I have been pleased to hear the watchdog bark at my competitors who were exporting far more than the 22.5% my company exports.  But lately, the same watchdog has been biting my friends, and barking at complete strangers who they admit they don't know the practices of.

See BAN's press release below, and hear this echo:
"Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?"

But God forbid that men should not believe
more things than they have ever seen with eye!
Men shall not fancy everything a lie
Unless themselves it see, or else it do;
For, God wot, not the less a thing is true,
Though every wight may not it chance to see.

Earth Day Collection Program Lacks Transparency
April 21, 2010.  Seattle, WA.  Customers hoping to take advantage of Target’s new Earth Day 2010 recycling program are faced with more questions than answers. Having learned that all recycling is not necessarily responsible recycling, conscientious consumers have been asking their local Target stores, “Where will my things be recycled?”  The usual answer they receive from Target employees? “We don’t know.”
A growing number of consumers are realizing that buying a product means taking full responsibility for that product, even when it is no longer useful. This is particularly important for goods like electronics that contain hazardous materials that are detrimental to the environment when disposed. Exposes on60 MinutesFrontline, 20/20 and others have documented how most electronics collected for ‘recycling’ in the US are shipped to developing countries where the hazardous materials are destroying the environment and poisoning workers and residents.
Toxic trade watchdog group the Basel Action Network (BAN) was alerted to the problem when e-Scrap News, a trade journal for the electronics recycling industry, reported that Target “did not say” who would be doing their electonic waste recycling. BAN aimed to find out if anybody in Target stores or headquarters would say.    
BAN volunteers made inquiries in person and by phone to Target stores in 12 different US cities and to Target’s Minneapolis headquarters. In every case, Target employees were either unwilling or unable to say what would happen to the toxic e-waste Target is collecting nationwide.  According to BAN, this lack of transparency about how the used electronics would be recycled is alarming because BAN estimates that about 80 percent of what consumers deliver for recycling in programs such as these is exported to developing countries.
“There’s no good reason for hiding responsible recycling, so Target’s lack of transparency is troubling,” says Sarah Westervelt, BAN’s e-Stewardship Policy Director.  “People asked the same simple question over and over again in Target stores across the country and just got the same run around.”
In 2008, the Government Accountability Office echoed BAN’s concerns and reported that the US government does not adequately regulate and control irresponsible and environmentally damaging toxic e-waste exports.  Private data is often left on hard drives and phones, creating opportunities for fraud or identity theft.  Or the waste can be diverted to municipal landfills or dangerous prison operations.
BAN recommends that the public always avoid any e-waste collection program that will not provide data destruction or assure full transparency and instead use recyclers that will not export hazardous e-waste to developing countries.   Last week, BAN launched its e-Stewards Certification program to identify recyclers who manage e-waste in a globally responsible manner.  That program has been endorsed by over a dozen leading corporations and nearly 70 environmental groups worldwide.
“The public needs to be vigilant not only with Target, but with any e-waste collection event or program,” said Westervelt.
BAN documented public inquiries to Target Stores in the following cities: Houston, Texas; West Houston, Texas; San Francisco, California; Westminster, Colorado; Atlanta, Georgia; Granger, Indiana; Vestal, New York; Portland, Oregon; Dickson City, Pennsylvania; Tacoma, Washington;  Seattle, Washington and the Minnesota, Target headquarters. 
For more information Contact:
Sarah Westervelt, BAN e-Stewardship Policy Director,, Telephone:  206-652-5555
Lauren Roman, BAN e-Stewards Business Director, e-Mail:, Telephone: 973-224-7632
For Target Store Volunteer Call Summary Log
To contact any of the volunteers to hear their story, call BAN, 206-652-5555.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

'BAN' is your typical Neo-Bolshevik organization, always on the lookout to disrupt/toss a wrench into what was heretofore, individuals/groups conducting business amongst themselves in an orderly manner that brought prosperity and needed materials to both sides of the transaction.

Of course, their charter is wrapped in flowery/compassionate language as per usual - it's for the sake of the 'children' and so forth. Your typical, garden variety Marxist Pap - but people buy it now, just like they did in 1917, and you might remember the results of that 'popular movement'...

There simply is no refuge from ne'er-do-wells like BAN, who see an opportunity to Skim, whenever a success story - like recycling and shipping badly needed base commodities overseas, becomes a popular trend. No-no-no, we can't have that...

'Non profit' my Ass... BAN, like other Watermelon organizations (green on the outside, Red on the inside), gains their $$$$Support from very large industry groups, that have a vested interest in gaining market share over smaller competitors who do not have the bureaucratic resources to chase after the 'paper-trails' created by inefficient monstrosities such as is the creation called BAN.

With fees of $100,000 and higher, just to become 'R2' certified, not to mention the costs of having 'auditors' come out to your facility to make sure your trash bin is aligned properly and raiding your privacy to make sure you're not intoxicating children 10,000 miles away, being BAN 'certified' becomes an effective and very clever way of pushing small businesses out of the picture for the larger organizations willing to get in bed with this Slimy Communist outfit.

I vote: No on 'BAN'.