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Seattle-based recycler admits to illegally exporting hazardous e-waste
May 9,2016 09:54CST
industry news
Seattle-based electronics recycler Total Reclaim has admitted that it had illegally exported hazardous materials to Hong Kong.

By Paul Ploumis (ScrapMonster Author)

May 06, 2016 07:48:50 AM

SEATTLE (Scrap Monster): Seattle-based electronics recycler Total Reclaim has admitted that it had illegally exported hazardous materials to Hong Kong. This follows the action by environmental group Basel Action Network (BAN), by which a television from the recyclers facility was tracked at a Hong Kong junk yard using GPS location tracker.


According to reports, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Washington Department of Ecology have launched investigations as to whether the e-waste recycler has violated the state’s hazardous waste laws. In addition, the Oregon Department of Justice has been asked to investigate whether the company has violated clauses of state consumer protection Act.

Also, Total Reclaim’s e-Stewards Certification and ISO 14001 registration have been revoked.

A blow to e-waste recycling industry

The report about illegal shipment of hazardous waste by Total Reclaim has cast doubts over the working model of e-waste recyclers in the country. A study report report released by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) had stated that 90% of the world’s electronic waste is illegally traded or dumped every year. The illegally traded waste accounts for a large portion of the world’s non-recycled waste mountain. In addition, the presence of hazardous elements in it causes potential threat to human health and environment.

Tricky market conditions to blame

The company co-owners Craig Lorch and Jeff Zirkle blamed extremely difficult market conditions. The sharp drop in prices of recycled commodities such as metals and plastics made the company compromise on its principles and indulge in business operations that were in violation to certification requirement. Meantime, the company has turned down requests for interview. It failed to comment on the quantity of material exported illegally. Incidentally, the ISRI 2016 Convention & Exposition held recently in Las Vegas had noted that electronics recycling industry across the globe has been badly hit by declining commodity prices.

Public statement

In a public statement, Total Reclaim has pledged to do everything it can to re-earn the trust of customers and the industry. It noted that all exports of e-waste for recycling have been ended. It has started working with a third party auditor to conduct new inspection of all our facilities in order to ensure full compliance with the E-cycle Washington and E-cycle Oregon programs.


Basel Action Network founder Jim Puckett stated that he was shocked at the report, considering the fact that Total Reclaim is a founding member of the e-Stewards certification. He added that the incident reminds of the need to make certification formalities more rigorous. Miles Kuntz, manager of the E-Cycle program at the Washington Department of Ecology noted that he was troubled to know that Total Reclaim was involved in acts of illegal export of hazardous waste.

About Total Reclaim

Total Reclaim is the leading recycler of computers and electronics in the Pacific Northwest. Total Reclaim is approved as a Collector, a Transporter and a Preferred Processor for Washington’s E-Cycles Electronics Recycling Program. It also works with all three of the manufacturer stewardship programs operating under the Oregon E-Cycles program.


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