- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) fined Total Reclaim, the region's largest electronics recycler, $164,400 for failing to properly characterize and manage hazardous waste shipments, as reported by Oregon Public Brodcasting's EarthFix.
- The materials in question included flat screen TVs and monitors that were exported to China. As noted by the DEQ, these items contained mercury, lead and other toxic metals that should have been identified to ensure worker safety during processing.
- Total Reclaim will also now be required to submit annual hazardous waste generator reports for 2013-2015 and pay any outstanding generator fees.
This is the latest in a series of consequences that have befell the Seattle-based company nearly a year after EarthFix and the Basel Action Network tracked shipments of material they collected going to China. Last fall, the Washington Department of Ecology fined Total Reclaim $444,000 and revoked its environmental certification as a result. Oregon's state electronics recycling program also stopped using the company after this news came out.
The company is appealing the Washington penalty, but has also issued an apology and begun updating its practices. Though they remain the largest electronics recycler in the Northwest that position could be in jeopardy if a new bill is passed by Washington's legislature to update the state's extended produce responsibility system for electronics. Total Reclaim and other industry groups have opposed the bill, while the Basel Action Network supports it in the spirit of greater transparency.
Both states have made a point of emphasizing that this Total Reclaim incident isn't reflective on the overall success of their respective electronics recycling programs. Washington recently reported that collections reached a record low since the program started in 2009, which could be a sign that consumers have exhausted their supply of older, heavier devices. Oregon has reported steady volumes, collecting approximately 205.8 million pounds of material over the same time period.