November 16, 2018
Total Reclaim Inc. has been charged by federal prosecutors with lying to customers about the destination of its e-waste.
According to The Stranger, the company’s customers, which include the City of Seattle, have paid millions of dollars to Total Reclaim for it to recycle e-waste including printers, computers, and other electronic appliances.
Total Reclaim, owned by Craig Lorch and Jeffrey Zirkle, markets itself as “environmentally responsible,” prosecutors asserted, and claimed that it did not export potentially hazardous materials to countries without the regulations in place to safely dispose of it.
However, in 2016 the environmental watchdog Basel Action Network (BAN) placed GPS devices in waste being processed by the company; these were then tracked to unregulated facilities in Hong Kong.
Total Reclaim initially refuted the claims, but later publicly admitted to the fraud, and was fined $444,000 by the Washington state Department of Ecology in 2016. A further fine of $67,000 followed in 2017, after regulators discovered thousands of flat-screen televisions improperly stored on Harbor Island.
BAN’s Executive Director, Jim Puckett, said: “The impacts of these toxic e-waste exports are difficult to quantify in terms of occupational disease, but the workers we observed at the junkyard operations [in Hong Kong] were unprotected and unaware of the acute and chronic poisoning from constant mercury inhalation.”
“Further, we observed much of the toxic waste that was not recyclable including mercury tubes, simply dumped in rural waysides, contaminating farmland and groundwater,” Puckett added.
Lorch and Zirkle are scheduled to appear in US District Court later today.