Intercon Solutions Slams BAN with First Documents

Immediately, when I read that BAN was "outing" Intercon Solutions of Chicago Heights for allegedly sending 3 sea containers of illegal "hazardous waste" to Hong Kong, China, I said... "Oh no, not again."

The Watchdog's New "E-Stewards" Clothes
Intercon Press Release at bottom

First, proper recycling is more affordable than ever.  Intercon is located in Illinois, a state with legislation that requires proper management of e-waste - and rewards it financially.   Moreover, with the exception of CRT glass, it has never been more profitable to disassemble and recycle circuit boards.  Umicore, one of the best end markets for dismantled circuit boards, is already having a record year, with shortages of rare earth metals and other proper recycling paying for themselves.  In short, there are few if any incentives for an established company to ship 80% of e-waste to Guiyu.

Second - BAN, I recalled, had "created" news 17 months previous, by alerting Indonesian officials that sea containers headed to a very respectable, ISO14001, refurbishing factory contained "hazardous waste".  Indonesia reacted as the USA would react to being told a container held anthrax - they shipped the container back to the USA, unopened.  BAN ran a press release announcing a great victory.


Accuse First, Discover Later?
In the recent accusation against Intercon, at best, BAN appeared to be splitting hairs, trying to differentiate E-Stewards certification from R2 Certification based on some small and random fraction of material Intercon recycled.  We are still waiting to hear what this key difference between certifications is.  But based on the first container - it is that BAN collects 1% of annual gross from Certified companies who compete with Intercon.

Why would a company doing 50+ Million pounds of electronics NOT be exporting containers, for plastic, aluminum, or parts for reuse?  How would 3 containers, divisible by that denominator, indicate anything sinister?  I was puzzled by Intercon's response that they "weren't ours", as it sounded to me like the company obviously passed CRT glass test and Printed Circuit Board tests, and could be innocently shipping hundreds of containers of raw materials.

Today Intercon Solutions issued a press release, that the first container held automobile scrap from a local auto scrap dismantler.  I'm relieved, not that Intercon didn't ship 3 containers out of hundreds of thousands of pounds, but that the company had not reflexively pushed an importer under the bus.

Evidently, the first one wasn't Intercon's container after all.  It was truck parts.


Basel Action Network has all the credibility of an amateur Salem Witch Jury.  They praise Pledge companies who export, accuse clean importers of polluting, and accuse a company with very, very (too few) exports of being a scofflaw.  They claim their E-Steward shredders are exporting better, more tested, more working product than I am, and when I volunteer to replace my volume completely with theirs, there's nothing to be seen.  They created a statistic "80% export" out of whole cloth, without a single piece of data.  Their entire organization is built on poster child images, children of scrap dealers, photos which tweak white guilt.

Intercon's announcement is pasted below.
Pre-Shipment Inspection Confirms No E-Waste In Intercon Solutions Export Travesty
For Immediate Release.  August 4, 2011  -- Today, Intercon Solutions  announced  a breakthrough in  its ongoing investigation into the  two  ocean  containers that  Basel Action Network (BAN) has publicly accused Intercon Solutions of  exporting to China filled with hazardous waste.  Intercon Solutions has confirmed that the ocean container that was shipped to China  was  not filled with Hazardous Waste and in fact contained  mixed metal  automotive parts that were inspected pre-shipment by  China Certification &  Inspection (Group) Co., Ltd. (CCIC).  
“Intercon Solutions  recently discovered that  CCIC certified the  contents of the  ocean container that went to China for export.  Per the report obtained from CCIC, the materials were inspected  by CCIC  pre-shipment for compliance with Chinese environmental standards,” said Cathy Pilkington, legal counsel for Intercon Solutions.     
Per its website,  www.CCIC.com,  CCIC is a company that conducts pre-shipment inspection  of contents  for import  to China  of  mechanical & electrical products by examining whether the commodities are in conformity with the requirement of Chinese examination  and pproval procedures; whether the goods tally with the relevant contracts and packing lists; and the pre-evaluation on safety, sanitation, environmental protection.   “The CCIC pre-inspection report confirms the bill of lading that Intercon Solutions obtained by court-order.  Both of these documents reflect that the contents in the ocean container shipped to China were mixed metal automotive parts, specifically alternators and starters,” Pilkington said.   
Intercon Solutions has proceeded on the premise that one of the primary challenges in conducting its ongoing investigation is to balance its self-interest to demonstrate the true identity of the shipper and the lack of hazardous waste shipped, while not causing another company to suffer damage at the hands of BAN.  “My client refused as unfair and inappropriate pointing the finger at someone else in order to clear its own name,” Pilkington said. 
Intercon has previously received court-ordered shipping documentation establishing that it was not the shipper of this ocean container.  Also, Intercon’s yard is co-leased with another company.  “Investigation has revealed that an independent third party (CCIC) conducted a preinspection and concluded that the ocean container contained mixed metal automotive parts and was suitable for export to China. Chinese authorities did not reject  it.  This evidence should satisfy a  reasonable  person that the ocean container did not contain hazardous waste,”commented Pilkington.  
“We are continuing our investigation to obtain documentation as to the  second  ocean container  on which BAN has made accusations against Intercon Solutions,” Pilkington added. 
“Court ordered documentation has  already  established that Intercon Solutions was not the shipper of the second ocean container.  And, hazardous  waste in  an ocean container being returned to the United States for that reason as BAN claims, does not just disappear without a trace,” Pilkington noted.  
“We are doing the homework that BAN refused to do.  By jumping to conclusions based on flimsy evidence, BAN jumped to ruin the reputation of an Illinois business and a responsible recycler,” Pilkington noted.  “BAN has publicly stated that it will retract its accusations only upon being presented with sworn testimony in a court of law.  The irony is that if BAN held itself to the same high standard, this entire situation would have been avoided,” Pilkington concluded.  
For more information, contact Cathy Pilkington, 312-346-2762 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            312-346-2762      end_of_the_skype_highlighting or send e-mail to 
cpilkington@pilkingtonlaw.com.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fantastic article. Once again BAN is emerging as the PETA of the ewaste world. Shock and awe scare tactics. I hope that Intercon pursues BAN for slander in court and drops their e-stewards cert. Who in their right mind would pursue BAN now after seeing how they threw one of their own under the bus.

Anonymous said...

Intercon has been advertising in print media, on their website, and in all manner of contracts and proposals for years they are a 'no export, no landfill, no resale' company. Yes, exporting is an integral part of the recycling machine, but why are we losing sight of the fact that they have been defrauding their clients for years? Regardless of whether or not what they exported was acceptable from a legal standpoint, given their 'business model' I'd think people would be up in arms about the fraudulent nature of how they are doing business. How would you feel to learn that a company that you entrusted and contractually agreed to handle your material in a certain way did not honor that contract. Intercon will never sue ban for if they did it would reveal how much exporting they actually do. If they are innocent I highly recommend a suit, as this flurry of attention most certainly has had a negative impact on their business. Sad thing is, I'll lay odds it never materializes. BAN is not perfect, but they are not defrauding clients for a buck.

Anonymous said...

I’ve been following both sides of this unfolding drama, and I just thought I’d raise a few practical questions:

How has Intercon ‘slammed’ BAN by releasing information on a container that is not the one referred to as having contained CRTs and batteries and returned to the US? According to BAN’s website (http://ban.org/library/BAN_intercom_questions.pdf) : they “…have only ever said that one container was known to contain hazardous waste as only one container was searched by authorities (the container that arrived in Hong Kong).”

Pilkington states: “We are continuing our investigation to obtain documentation as to the second ocean container on which BAN has made accusations against Intercon Solutions.” If there is no relevant information to share on the container in question, then why the press release and what exactly was the ‘breakthrough’?

In a press release from very soon after the story broke, Pilkington is quoted as saying Intercon "Did not own the ocean containers, did not load them with hazardous waste, and did not ship anything in them nor cause them to be transported. Intercon Solutions maintains that such action could have only been accomplished by trespass on its property, and that the actions of the trespasser created a nuisance entitling Intercon Solutions to sue for disclosure and for losses it may suffer as a result." This argument was used to petition the courts to have CGA CGM release their records regarding the shipment(s), which they did.

Intercon is now in possession of such information, and what were originally threats of a suit for criminal trespass (on NAID certified property) and losses for resultant suffering (loss of business) has been reduced to “My client refused as unfair and inappropriate pointing the finger at someone else in order to clear its own name.”

Are we to believe they have suffered no losses?

Are we to believe they are morally opposed to bringing to justice the party(ies) having committed criminal trespass on their NAID certified property numerous times?

What could possibly be unfair or inappropriate about clearing one’s name at the cost of a habitual criminal being held responsible for their actions?

Would it be a hard decision for you if your business was on the line?

I ask you, does any of this make logical sense?

Anonymous said...

Try explaining smashing TV sets
on Intercon property with a
Bob-Cat, was this done by a third
party? what happened to the debris?

WR3A's Robin Ingenthron said...

The purpose of this post is that I have both a friend and also a competitor who were each falsely accused of the same type of thing Intercon is accused of by the same entity. That does not mean I know or have an opinion of what Intercon did or did not do. I have a strong opinion about this type of accusation, when not presented with evidence other than "picture of a sea container" which may have been filled with car parts or aluminum or working monitors or nuclear waste. Doing business with a person in China is not a crime.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the smashing of TV sets on Intercon property with a bobcat; my sources tell me that the crushed glass from the TV sets were subsequently thrown into the same containers as their steel and aluminum, so as to #1: get rid of the glass that would end up costing them money to properly recycle, and #2: increase the weight of the load of steel and aluminum. Intercon then sent their metals to Sims Metal Management locally, who they have an account with.

The great thing is that Sims noticed the glass mixed in with the loads and refused to accept them.

If you want to verify the account, contact the sales person at Simms Metal Management who has the Intercon account and ask him.

Too bad some of Intercon's clients who send them TV's for proper recycling don't sue Intercon to find out where their material really went to, and how it was really handled. I don't think this method is what Intercon adverstises as the way they "properly recycle TV's".

Anonymous said...

Robin,

I know you don't have a problem with an electronics recycler exporting material overseas, nor do I. Anyone who has been in the recycling industry long enough knows that you have to export certain materials overseas because the USA just doesn't have the facilities capable to recycle them.

My point is that for years Intercon has publicly advertised to its clients that they are unlike any other recycler in the USA, and NEVER export ANYTHING outside of the USA's borders. This claim is fraudulent, and again, anyone in the recycling industry would tell you so!

The big focus should be on all of Intercon's clients who paid Intercon thousands of dollars each year to recycle their material based on Intercon's promise that none of their material would be exported. These private companies, municiplaities, and government agencies were defrauded!

The truth is we don't know how many containers Intercon has exported illegaly or legally over the years. What we do know is that BAN has uncovered at least one that Intercon has yet to disprove came from them.

Criminals typically commit several if not dozens of crimes before they finally get caught. Why would we think big companies are any different.

P.S.: For those of you who didn't notice, Intercon has removed their so-called policy of no exporting from their website since BAN's story broke.

WR3A's Robin Ingenthron said...

My question to BAN is, does Intercon pass the CRT Glass Test? BAN did not answer. If you have thoroughly done a certification, there is no way to hide whether someone has a legitimate end market for 25-40% of the hardest to manage material. BAN's headline is "Toxic E-Waste Exports by Chicago Electronics Recycler Uncovered". What is in the containers? And is the most significant, most expensive to manage, toxic material (CRT glass) accounted for or not? This anonymous sniping by competitors is petty. If BAN did a thorough analysis during their certification, does Intercon pass CRT Glass Test or not?? BAN co-wrote a white paper on the subject with me in 2004. If BAN is going to generate this type of headline, as they did to a very fine Indonesia operation in 2010, they should be able to answer very basic questions. Had they done the CRT glass test in Indonesia, a thousand legitimate jobs at an ISO14001 factory may have been spared. This is not about Intercon, this is about extortion and McCarthyism, planned obsolescence, and racism.

Anonymous said...
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