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E-Recycler Intercon Accused of China Shipments, Takes Legal Action

Intercon Solutions, an e-waste handler, took legal action yesterday after a certification program accused the company of shipping hazardous waste to China.

Watchdog group the Basel Action Network announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Heights, Ill., electronics recycler would be the first company denied BAN’s e-Stewards certification, which aims to recognize e-waste recyclers that operate responsibly.

BAN said its decision was based on “compelling evidence” that Intercon had been exporting hazardous electronic waste to China, in violation of the UN’s Basel Convention. The non-profit said that two freight containers containing such waste were shipped from Intercon premises to Los Angeles and then to Hong Kong.

“Intercon Solutions has boasted to customers for a long time in brochures and on its website that it does not export any used electronics entrusted to it for recycling,” BAN said in a press release. “However on two separate occasions BAN investigators photographed and tracked containers of electronic waste leaving property leased by Intercon Solutions in Chicago Heights on its way to China.

“BAN had alerted Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department. As the same for any other cases, given the shipment contained hazardous waste, they subsequently required that the shipment be returned to the US,” BAN adds.

But Intercon said the containers did not belong to the company. On Wednesday the firm filed a petition for presuit discovery with the circuit court of Cook County, Ill., to force BAN to provide more information about the allegations.

“Petitioner [Intercon] did not deposit the containers on the premises, and petitioner has no record of them being on the premises,” the filing states. “The containers did not belong to petitioner. Petitioner did not load them. Petitioner did not ship anything in [the] containers… nor cause them to be transported by trucking company, rail nor by ocean freight.”

Intercon says that one or more persons must have trespassed on its premises to deposit the containers, then load them with hazardous waste for shipment. By forcing BAN to provide relevant documents, such as export declarations, bills of lading, waybills, express bills, packing lists or invoices, Intercon says it could discover the identity of the trespassers.

An attorney for the company, Cathy Pilkington, told Environmental Leader, “Intercon Solutiosn respects the mission of BAN, but strongly disagrees that the evidence justifies the conclusion that BAN has reached.”

BAN’s press release and evidentiary report caused another agency, R-2, to immediately de-list Intercon, according to the company, which says it has also suffered reputational damage with its suppliers and customers.

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7 thoughts on “E-Recycler Intercon Accused of China Shipments, Takes Legal Action

  1. Intercon Solutions has been telling its customers for years that it does not export any of the material it receives outside of the USA, not just to developing countries. It makes these claims in order to try to differentiate iteself from other legitimate recyclers who do export as part of their business model. It looks like the cat is finally out of the bag. It’s good to see that Intercon cannot just throw money at this to make it go away, although I’m sure they will spend quite a bit to their attorneys trying to deny the allegations in court. I think by a full out denial, Intercon will ultimately dig its grave deeper than if it simply admitted they export material just like every other recycler does. However, Intercon got caught doing it to a developing country, so that makes it a more difficult admission. Intercon’s CEO will never admit that he has done anything wrong. That is his M.O. There is a lot of dirt out there against Intercon; not just what BAN uncovered. I wonder if those who have dirt on Intercon will now come forward to expose how deep this goes? Companies who spend thousands of dollars each year thinking their material is getting recycled a certain way should not have to worry about being defrauded. It puts their credibility and reputation on the line as well. When greed by a recycler is involved, they probably could care less about what happens to anyone else though.

  2. So the defense is: “one or more persons must have trespassed on its premises to deposit the containers, then load them with hazardous waste for shipment”
    Hmmm… one presumes that Intercon has some sort of security on-site to prevent “one or more persons trespassing on its premises’ to steal material – isn’t this just the same side of the coin?
    I don’t see that “export declarations, bills of lading, waybills, express bills, packing lists or invoices” is going to help discover the identity of the trespassers!

  3. I gotta admit – this looks bad for Intercon. I mean, someone else broke into our facility, loaded a trailer with hazardous waste, and shipped it overseas? Are you serious??? That’s either a brilliant move to get Intercon in hot water, or a ridiculous stretch to push the blame elsewhere. I dunno about you, but I am thinking it’s the latter.

  4. Sorry to tell anyone who does not know this, but everything (or just about) goes to China. That does not mean that China is a bad place for it, just that it is a common port for scrap material.

    Very little processing of electronic scrap is done here in the US. Even the major refiners ship material overseas.

    Not all Chinese processors are bad just as not all domestic processors are good.

    What I really hate is the type of business model Intercon uses. Basically they charge you for the recycling service then sell the material to the highest bidder.

    Oh well!

  5. Why ship to China at all when there is a Recycling Company that actually does end-of-life processing not just advertise it but actual process everything from household appliances to stand alone photocopiers, transmitters and general IT ewaste. Their technology exceeds all of what is currently available on the market. No shipments go to China or elsewhere in the world. The only material leaving their facility is raw material; steel, copper, aluminum ect… I bet every recycler currently involved in manual disassembely ships e-waste overseas cause they can’t process the material and recover metals and china pays for this material even though they poison their people with their process. Crazy how they still make money.

  6. As an employee and sales rep of intercon solutions I can honestly speak the truth and make claim that they did do this shipment of electronic waste to China and Hong Kong. CEO Brian Brundage knows he did this and should not lie anymore and try to cover this up!

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