Total Reclaim Under Investigation
Hidden GPS trackers placed into TV’s sent to Total Reclaim lead PBS Film crews and e-Steward investigators to unregulated scrapping operations in Hong Kong prompting DEQ and Washington Department of Ecology Investigations. Oregon regulators have also asked the state Department of Justice to open an investigation into whether Total Reclaim violated consumer protection laws. The Seattle based Electronics Recycling company admits they lost sight of their values and made business decisions that were contrary to the certifications and standards they had agreed to meet by exporting the devices to Hong Kong and knowingly withheld information from their customers.
Reports from OPB.org claim Total Reclaim accounts for more than 50 percent of all electronics recycling in Washington leaving customers like the City of Seattle, King County, Boeing and the University of Washington in shock. Founded in 1991, Total Reclaim specializes in recycling common household items that contain hazardous materials, ranging from laptops and batteries to light bulbs, refrigerators and air conditioners. The company collects, transports, dismantles these items into raw materials like copper, steel or plastic that can be re-sold to manufacturers. A full report provided by BAN of Total Reclaim’s misdeeds can be seen here.
Americans Need to Make Moral Decisions about e-Waste
In a quote from a previous article posted in the Seattle Times Co-owner of Total Reclaim Craig Lorch, said “Americans need to make a moral decision about dealing with waste”. Lorch said recyclers may charge $10 to dispose of a computer monitor, then get $2 or $3 for it from a broker who sells it overseas. Or recycling companies could spend $2 to dismantle the monitor safely, then sell the scrap metal for pennies, as Lorch says he does.
Lorch supports a ban on exporting toxic waste, a ban he acknowledges could bring his company more business. The electronic components that Lorch’s 40 employees extract from computers are sold to an American company, which ships them overseas for copper extraction. The overseas workers, Lorch said, likely don’t enjoy the same safety protections his workers do. Many recyclers don’t touch the monitors before they ship them whole abroad, Lorch said. “We are managing this waste material under our laws because … it’s simply the right thing to do,” he said.
In addition to working directly with business and various organizations, Total Reclaim is an active participant in state electronics recycling programs, including those in Washington and Oregon. In 2015, Total Reclaim processed about 21.8 million pounds of material handled under Washington’s manufacturer-funded recycling program. That equated to just over half of the weight that moved through the Washington program during the year.
Total Reclaim operations had been previously inspected by state regulators in Oregon and Washington, as well as e-Stewards auditors. Processors like Total Reclaim are also required to report to state-run recycling programs what they do with the waste they receive. However when tracking devices showed flatscreens sent to Total Reclaim ended up in Hong Kong, Miles Kuntz, manager of the E-Cycle program at the Washington Department of Ecology, called the situation “very troubling.”
Isn’t it time to ReThink Electronic Recycling…ThinkATR!
ATR’s R2 Certified IMS Policy Overview
The Integrated Management System or IMS Policy is used to define virtually every aspect of our companies procedures and compliance standards.
- ATR is committed to providing clients, residents, and businesses with the highest asset recovery and recycling in a manner protective of the environment and worker health and safety.
- ATR is committed to the prevention of pollution and prevention of injury and ill health.
- ATR is committed to managing used and end of life electronic equipment based on a reuse, recover, dispose hierarchy including onsite and downstream materials management throughout the recycling chain.
- ATR is committed to managing Focus Materials outlined in the Responsible Recycling (“R2”) Practices Standards with due diligence to protect our environment.
- ATR is committed to continuous improvement achieved through monitoring and rigorous evaluation.
- ATR is committed to complying with all legal and other requirements.
- ATR is committed to communicating and reinforcing this policy throughout our company, as well as, to our customers, our suppliers and to the public.
- ATR is committed to comply with all ITAR requirements that apply to our business.
- ATR is committed to prevent unauthorized transfer of ITAR related articles, products and technologies.
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