California Company Busted Trying to Send e-Waste to China

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an order seeking penalties of up to $37,500 per day to Monterey Park, Calif.-based ZKW Trading for failing to properly manage electronic waste that it attempted to export to Hong Kong.

EPA issued the penalty order after ZKW failed to comply with a September 2009 order requiring the company to remove its cargo from the Port of Long Beach and to submit a plan for management of electronic waste that ZKW had shipped to Hong Kong without providing required notice. The waste was part of a shipment of approximately 31,993 pounds of cathode ray tubes that had been rejected in Hong Kong and returned to the Port of Long Beach. EPA said ZKW failed to provide appropriate notice to either EPA or the receiving country as required by federal law. After receiving the earlier order, ZKW informed EPA that it would not comply with the order.

“EPA requires all exporters of e-waste for recycling to provide notification,” said Amy Miller, who leads Resource Conservation and Recovery Act enforcement in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Companies that fail to comply will face significant penalties.”

Commonly known as CRTs, cathode ray tubes are the video display components of televisions and computer monitors. The glass in these units typically contains enough lead to require managing it as hazardous waste when they are discarded or recycled.

In June 2009, ZKW Trading reportedly consigned 38 pallets of cathode ray tubes -- listing the cargo as plastic scrap -- for shipment to Hong Kong, where it was rejected by Hong Kong customs authorities.

The order gave ZKW Trading 30 days to remove the cargo, and 45 days to submit a plan to EPA detailing how it will reuse, recycle, or discard the CRTs. ZKW Trading’s failure to comply subjects it to fines of up to $37,500 per day of noncompliance.

Regulations took effect in January 2007 requiring exporters shipping CRTs to another country for recycling to notify EPA and receive written consent from the receiving country before shipments can be made.

“This agency is firmly committed to greater e-waste stewardship; companies that make, distribute, use, and dispose of electronic products share the responsibility for reducing their environmental impact,” said Jeff Scott, director of the Waste Management Division for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. For more information on CRTs, go to www.epa.gov/region09/waste/solid/ecycling/crt.

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