E-waste’s Harmful Effects on African Laborers

For developing countries in areas such as West Africa, local workers often view e-waste processing as a lifeline. It’s a means to secure a meager amount of income to help keep food on the table. Often children and the elderly are used to abstract precious metals from discarded mobile phones, computers, monitors, wires and other electronic waste.  However, most are unaware of the harmful effects that improper e-waste handling has on their health.

Unfortunately, these countries do not have the resources necessary to safely dispose of e-waste so the lives of these laborers are being put at risk. Primitive methods like burning or washing with hydrochloric acid are used in these regions to dismantle e-waste to recover precious metals. Research shows that these methods are extremely harmful to human health and toxic to the environment.

E-waste contains highly toxic concentrations of chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. When these toxins accumulate in our food chain through soil and groundwater, the effects can be deadly.

The problem is worsened by developed nations that regularly export their toxic e-waste by the tons to these developing countries who are not equipped or trained to properly handle the toxic materials. Currently, there is no legislation in the U.S. that bans such practices, but the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act has been reintroduced into Congress.

This makes it imperative to choose an e-Stewards certified electronics recyclers when disposing old cell phones and other end-of-life electronic devices. e-Stewards recyclers and their downstream vendors adhere to the most stringent global standards for worker safety and environmental protection. E-Stewards certified recyclers are regularly audited to ensure no e-waste is sent to landfills or exported to developing countries. The certification also prohibits the use of slave, coerced or prison labor in the processing e-waste.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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e-Cycle Applauds Iron Mountain’s Pledge to Responsibly Manage E-Waste by Utilizing e-Stewards Electronics Recyclers

e-Cycle congratulates Iron Mountain, a storage and information management company, on their e-Stewards® Enterprise designation. The company has responded to the world’s fastest-growing pollution problem – improperly recycled or disposed of e-waste – with a pledge to use only e-Stewards certified recyclers and help their customers do the same.

“Leaders lead, and Iron Mountain has demonstrated that the status quo situation where electronic waste is routinely dumped in developing countries or our local landfills is just not acceptable anymore,” said Jim Puckett, executive director of BAN.

e-Stewards Enterprises are organizations that commit to utilizing e-Stewards certified recyclers, wherever possible. e-Stewards recyclers and their downstream vendors are continually audited to validate that they uphold the highest global standards for environmental protection and social responsibility.

More than 70 environmental groups worldwide have endorsed the e-Stewards Standard, including Greenpeace, the National Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club. To learn more about the e-Stewards certification, visit www.e-Stewards.org or our e-Stewards information page.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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e-Cycle: Five Common Mistakes to Avoid when Creating a BYOD Policy

With bring your own device (BYOD) programs exploding worldwide, enterprises are searching for the perfect solution for managing and securing employee-liable devices. Implementing a BYOD policy is tricky because each program must be customized to meet the specific needs for each company and there is no catch-all solution. As a global leader in the mobile buyback and recycling industry, e-Cycle shares five common BYOD mistakes that can lead to disgruntled workers, lower productivity as well as higher costs and mobile security headaches.

1. No Policy or Monitoring
BYOD’s major strength is the flexibility it lends to employees; however, businesses must be prepared for the liability that accompanies it. Creating a BYOD policy with specific guidelines for who owns the data, device and software, how the expenses are distributed and what happens to the device when it is lost or stolen will help to avoid legal matters and protect your company.

2. Excessive Mobile Security
Multiple passwords, remote device wipes and location trackers are important features to protect mobile data, but requiring over-the-top security features will leave employees soured on BYOD. Instead, search for solutions that enhance productivity and increase employee satisfaction, while still protecting sensitive mobile data. But be careful, restoring factory settings and remote wiping is not a guarantee of data removal. Often times sensitive information still remains on wireless devices including names, contact information, pin numbers, emails and even photos. A shocking study revealed confidential information was found on devices purchased on eBay.

3. Too Few Options
BYOD was intended to empower employees with the ability to choose the devices and apps they want. A program that is too limited may lower company morale and cause employees to develop their own workarounds to utilize the apps they prefer, which increases the likelihood of a breach. Give your employees enough options to boost productivity and create a positive output for the company.

4. Too Many Options
Managing mobile business data through numerous devices and carriers can quickly become a nightmare for an enterprise’s IT or mobility department. BYOD is meant to be beneficial to both the business and the employee. Offering three to four mainstream devices will please employees and allow the IT/mobility department to effectively manage mobile security, creating applications and troubleshooting. Be wary of devices and applications that are known to be traps for malware.

5. Not Thinking it Through
As the newest mobile trend, many companies are diving head first into BYOD without thinking the process through. Enterprises need to ensure that BYOD makes sense for the needs of the company and employees. BYOD can save businesses money; however, there are often hidden expenses that accompany this new trend like software licensing, mobile security, device management and regulatory compliance. These are all expenses that need to be considered when deciding to make the switch to BYOD.

6. Partner with a Trusted Mobile Buyback and Recycling Company
Encourage or mandate that your employees discard their used personally-owned devices securely and responsibly by utilizing a trusted wireless buyback and recycling company that has proven processes for data deletion. There are numerous consumer buyback companies that claim data protection, however, provide poor data security processes and unsecure facilities. Discourage employees from selling their used mobile devices on eBay and Craigslist.

Vetting and recommending a secure and proven mobile buyback and recycling partner to compensate your employees while protecting their sensitive data and the environment is critical to help negate data breaches and to protect your corporate reputation. Additionally, utilize e-Stewards® certified electronics recyclers who are rigorously audited each year to ensure they uphold globally-recognized standards for data security, environmental protection and worker safety.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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The New School is the First Northeast University Acknowledged as e-Stewards Enterprise

e-Cycle applauds The New School of New York City for being the first educational institution in the Northeast to become an e-Stewards® Enterprise. Their pledge to manage e-waste appropriately and use recyclers that are certified to the e-Stewards standards.

The e-Stewards Enterprise designation provides recognition of organizations that dispose of their electronics properly by utilizing e-Stewards certified recyclers.

The e-Stewards Standard prohibits e-waste dumping in municipal landfills and the export of e-waste to developing countries. Both of which can cause catastrophic harm to the environment and health of local residents. It also ensures worker protection and enforces strict rules for data security. The e-Stewards Standard is the only certification to encompass and strictly enforce all these essential components.

The EPA estimates that 70 to 80 percent of electronics recyclers in the U.S. either directly or indirectly sell non-functional electronic components to companies that export toxic e-waste overseas for a profit. To achieve e-Stewards certification, electronics recyclers and their downstream vendors are rigorously audited to ensure only fully-functional devices are sold for reuse and all other devices and accessories are recycled in the most environmentally responsible way possible.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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BAN and e-Cycle Urge Use of e-Stewards Recyclers After e-Waste Executive is Sent to Prison for Exportation of Hazardous Waste

Executive Recycling and its leadership were sentenced for their role in exporting e-waste overseas to developing countries. This is the first time anyone has been convicted for such a crime in the U.S.

The corporation was sentenced to pay a $4,500,000 fine and serve three years on probation.

Brandon Richter was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, followed by three years on supervised release, in addition to a $7,500 fine and $70,144 in restitution.

Tor Olson, the former vice president of operations for the corporation, was sentenced to 14 months in prison with a $5,000 fine and ordered to pay more than $15,000 in restitution. Olson is currently free on bond pending appeal.

The prosecution argued that the company devised a scheme to defraud Colorado businesses and government entities. They deceived their customers by stating their electronics were being recycled responsibly and domestically within the United States. Prosecution alleged the company exported 300 containers between 2005 and 2008 to developing countries, containing a total of 100,000 CRTs.

Olson and CEO Brandon Ritcher were indicted in 2011 after their company become the centerpiece of the award winning 60 Minutes episode, The Electronic Wasteland, that used research from BAN to show 20 containers filled with e-waste leaving Executive’s facility going to China and other developing countries.

BAN Executive Director, Jim Puckett, stated,  “Sadly, the two Denver executives that made a fortune exploiting the environment and workers health in developing countries, represent just a sample of the US toxic e-waste flood flowing offshore. There are many hundreds of similar ‘charlatan recyclers’ operating in every US city every day – all of them pretending to protect the environment while simply filling up sea-going containers of your old TVs, printers, phones and computers.

e-Stewards Certification

To provide consumers with an easy way to identify responsible recyclers, BAN created the e-Stewards® Certification program. e-Stewards recyclers and refurbishers refuse to export e-waste because they are conscious of the catastrophic harm to the environment and heath of locals that is can cause. They are audited yearly to demonstrate compliance to the rigorous e-Stewards Standard. e-Stewards recyclers This international treaty governing waste trade has been adopted by over 170 countries.

Electronic consumers should only make use of certified e-Stewards recyclers and not be deceived by the green promises of other certifications or claims purporting recycling responsibility.

Responsible Electronics Recycling Act

BAN is calling for support for the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act (RERA); which will prohibit the unsustainable export of toxic e-waste. According to BAN, without clear laws, prosecution is difficult. In Executive Recycling’s trial, prosecutors had to prove fraud because current environmental trade rules are rampant with loopholes. The RERA would rectify that and is already supported by many American recyclers, manufactures and retailers.

Consumers wishing to do the right thing with their e-waste, should do two simple things: a) only use e-Stewards certified recyclers or refurbishers; b) contact your congressman to support the RERA.

Sooner or later everybody has e-waste,” said Puckett. “So everybody has the responsibility and opportunity to ensure that the recyclers they use are certified to the highest levels of integrity and environmental protection. At the same time, we can ask our representatives to support laws that ensure that the costs of toxic products are internalized by American businesses, and not simply dumped on foreign shores.

Read the official BAN press release here.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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How to Recycle Your Used Computers, Mobile Phones and Other Electronics Safely and Avoid Using the Wrong Electronics Recycling Company

According to the United Nations, around 20 to 50 million tons of e-waste is generated worldwide each year and only a small fraction of that e-waste is properly recycled. Businesses must partner with a credible electronics recycler to ensure that their mobile and other electronics devices and the sensitive data stored inside are recycled properly. Partnering with the wrong electronics recycler can be extremely hazardous for the environment and business. 

The Problem

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 70 to 80 percent of recyclers in the U.S. either directly or indirectly export their e-waste into developing countries. The Basel Action Network (BAN) reports that more than 500 containers, each containing 10 to 15 tons of e-waste, enter Nigerian ports every month, amounting to 60,000 to 90,000 tons of e-waste each year. Exporting e-waste is devastating to both the health of the environment and the people in these countries.

­Slave or child labor and unethical methods such as open-acid baths and open-air burning are often used to extract the valuable metals inside t­he devices and to dispose of e-waste. Mobile phones, tablets and computers contain toxic metals and chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, beryllium and brominated flame retardants. These extraction methods cause substantial harm to the environment and the inhalation of the toxic fumes can cause significant health problems or even death for the locals in these e-waste farming communities.

According to a report released by the United Nations, criminal gangs behind the drug trade in West Africa are becoming involved with illegal e-waste trading. Many of the discarded electronics and mobile devices that end up in these dumping grounds have not been properly wiped of data. This leaves private information such as addresses, phone numbers and banking details to be easily harvested by criminals.

The Solution

It is imperative that businesses and individuals properly recycle their retired devices with a responsible electronics recycler. BAN, together with industry leaders, developed the e-Stewards certification program in an effort to eliminate the growing e-waste problem.

e-Stewards provides consumers, businesses and government agencies that dispose of their old electronic equipment an easy way to identify recycling companies that adhere to the highest standards of environmental responsibility, data security and worker protection. This globally recognized program is the only certification that strictly prohibits the export of toxic e-waste into developing countries and bans the use of child and prison labor. It also requires yearly audits to ensure that the high e-Stewards standards are continuously being met. Using e-Stewards certified recyclers will not only guarantee organizations protect the environment when recycling their electronics but also their sensitive company information.

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e-Cycle is the trusted wireless mobile buyback and recycling partner for many of the largest organizations in the world. As the first mobile recycling company to achieve e-Stewards certification, we adhere to the highest standards for environmental responsibility and worker health and safety. e-Cycle offers a simple, secure, environmentally responsible and profitable way for businesses to sell and recycle used mobile phones and tablets. Learn more at www.e-Cycle.com.

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e-Cycle Update: Global E-waste is Ending up in Toxic Wastelands in China

A recent United Nations report revealed that approximately 70 percent of globally produced e-waste is being exported to China for disposal, making it the largest e-waste dumping site in the world.

Many of these products are originally manufactured in China and are finding their way back through illegal exportation from developed countries, even though the U.N. has a ban that strictly prohibits this practice.

Over the past decade Guiyu, a small town in southeastern China, has become a major hub for the disposal of e-waste. Here, hundreds of thousands of people dismantle the world’s electronic junk in dangerous, primitive ways.  The effects on the environment and the health of the local community are catastrophic.

Environmental Pollution

The U.N. report stated that the e-waste disposal industry has caused “environmental calamity” in Guiyu. Much of the toxic pollution is a direct result of burning the equipment and washing it with hydrochloric acid.

The washing technique is used to obtain valuable metals from devices. For example, approximately 35 thousand pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered for every million cellphones recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The U.N. report showed that using the burning and washing methods releases hydrocarbon ashes into the air, water and soil, and it contaminates the environment with toxic heavy metals.

Health Hazards

While Guiyu locals downplay the potential damage their work has on their health, studies conducted by Shantou University Medical College have shown reasons for concern. Reports revealed that many children tested in Guiyu had higher than average levels of lead in their blood, which is known to stunt the development of the brain and central nervous system.

In addition, mercury can be released into the environment during the dismantling and disposal of electronic devices like mobile phones, TVs and computer monitors. Mercury can easily accumulate within the food chain, particularly fish, causing damage to the brain and kidneys.

What can you do?

To ensure your wireless devices and other electronic equipment are being recycled responsibly, be sure to only work with an e-Stewards certified recycler. The certification is recognized globally and e-Stewards recyclers and their downstream vendors are rigorously audited to ensure they adhere to the highest standards for responsible recycling and reuse of electronic equipment. e-Stewards is the only electronics recycler certification in the world that strictly prohibits the export of toxic e-waste into developing countries, includes industry-specific worker health and safety requirements and bans the use of child, slave and prison labor.

e-Cycle is the first wireless buyback and recycling company in the world to achieve e-Stewards certification. To learn more about responsible mobile phone and tablet recycling, contact us at www.e-Cycle.com.

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Five Fundamental Flaws of the 2013 R2 Standard for Electronics Recycling

The Basel Action Network (BAN) recently released a critique entitled “Five Fundamental Flaws: A Concise Critique of the R2:2013 Standard.” It speaks to the loopholes caused by the ambiguity of the certification, but does mention that the overall implementation of the R2 certification has improved.

“We remain disappointed and very concerned with the substance of the Standard itself, which has change little from the initial version (R2:2008) published five years ago,” BAN stated.

The fundamental flaws of the certification stem from what appear to be intentional loopholes that facilitate social and environmental irresponsibility in the electronic recycling and asset recovery industry. The critique outlined the following flaws:

  1. R2 does not adhere to international hazardous waste trade laws that apply to the exportation of used electronics. These laws, established under the Basel Convention, have been adopted by 180 countries and are the legal waste trading framework practiced worldwide. Basically, the R2 certification has no provisions that prohibit the export of harmful toxic waste. This creates problems for developing countries where e-waste is being imported because they do not have the appropriate infrastructure in place to prevent harm to the environment and to the health of their communities. Enterprises that recycle their mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices may be at risk of having their electronics discovered in overseas “toxic wastelands.”
  2. R2 allows recyclers to be certified without certifying all of the facilities operating under the company’s control. This presents serious issues because irresponsible, unethical recyclers can externalize costs by sending toxic materials that require expensive management to developing countries. These organizations do not have to adhere to any regulations regarding the disposal of e-waste, while the parent company can still claim R2 certification.
  3. R2 allows insufficient Environmental, Health, & Safety Management System (EHSM) to be substituted for the internationally accepted ISO and OSHAS standards. To remedy issues with earlier versions of the R2 standard, the requirement for an EHSM System was added to R2:2013. This is problematic because it falsely implicates that an EHSM system is equivalent to the comprehensive and internationally accepted ISO standards. R2:2013 also fails to define any measurement to qualify an EHSM system as being acceptable.
  4. R2 does not require ethical labor practices. Unfortunately, child, slave and prison labor are still common practices in the recycling supply chain worldwide. The R2:2013 Standard fails the test of being socially responsible by excluding any reference to minimum labor standards. The terms “labor” and “social accountability” do not even appear in the Standard. E-waste contains hazardous materials and sensitive data, so a truly responsible certification must strictly exclude such dangerous and unethical practices.
  5. R2 does not require satisfactory occupational health and safety protections. The Standard fails to require mandatory air testing and does not prevent the shredding of devices containing hazardous materials like beryllium, cadmium or mercury. These practices can cause irreparable harm to the health of workers in the e-waste industry.

R2:2013 Standard’s ambiguity and refusal to acknowledge the guidelines of the Basel Convention creates loopholes for irresponsible recycling. It provides unwarranted credit to electronics recyclers who deceive consumers and businesses by allowing them to believe their devices are being recycled in a secure and responsible manner.

It is imperative that businesses and individuals properly recycle their retired devices with a responsible electronics recycler. BAN, together with industry leaders, developed the globally recognized e-Stewards certification program in an effort to eliminate the growing e-waste problem.

e-Stewards is the only electronics recycler certification that strictly prohibits the export of toxic e-waste into developing countries, includes industry-specific worker health and safety requirements and bans the use of child, slave and prison labor. Using e-Stewards certified recyclers guarantees the highest standards of environmental responsibility, data security and worker protection are being met.

To download BAN’s full report, visit http: www.e-cycle.com/wp-content/uploads/FiveFundamentalFlawFinal.pdf.

To learn more about responsible mobile phone and tablet recycling, visit www.e-Cycle.com.

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