Trading Company Illegally Ships E-Waste Overseas

In a news release issued earlier this week, the U.S. EPA announced it is ordering a California-based trading company to present a plan for the recycling of nearly 32,000 pounds of e-waste, after learning the waste was illegally shipped to China.


Cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors are one of the most difficult electronic devices to recycle, as each can contain up to seven pounds of lead in the tube, according to the EPA. Photo:

The waste, comprised of cathode ray tubes (CRTs), was listed as plastic scrap cargo by ZKW Trading, but Hong Kong customs authorities recognized the hazardous contents and rejected the cargo.

The hazardous waste was shipped back to the U.S., where the trading company has been given 30 days to remove it from cargo and 45 days to submit a management plan to the EPA for its reuse, recycling or disposal. If EPA requirements are not met, the company will face a $37,500 per day fee for each violation.

“The EPA is ordering ZKW Trading to submit a plan detailing how it will ensure that thousands of pounds of CRTs are managed in an environmentally sound manner,” said Jeff Scott, director of Waste Programs for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Electronic recyclers, freight forwarders and shipping brokers must obey federal regulations for exporting electronics or else face possible legal action.”

The glass found in CRTs typically contains enough lead to require it to be handled as hazardous waste, according to the EPA. Traditional televisions and computer monitors contain CRTs, which facilitate the display of images to the screen, though flat screen televisions and monitors do not.

In 2007, the EPA put into effect regulations requiring CRT exporters to notify the EPA prior to any shipment to another country for recycling. The regulation also requires the receiving country provide written consent authorizing the shipment of the tubes.

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  1. Glad to hear that the EPA is cracking down on dumping e-waste. It’s very important that companies recycle/dispose of this stuff properly, but it’s also important that individual consumers dispose of their own e-waste properly. Environmental hero Christopher Swain is calling others to action to organize electronics recycling events in their own towns. To learn how you can participate, check out

  2. That sucks… it’s not right to dump this stuff on other countries. China is screwing up their own environment just fine without our help. This garbage should be traced back to the original owners, and they should be fined!

  3. There was a recent 20-20 investigation program that centered around this controversy, and how another e-waste recycling company (who touted their enviro-stance and the government regulations regarding illegally dumping it) had one of their containers full of TVs and other e-waste, tracked to a port in China only to also be refused.
    And then when the owner was showed the video footage, he wouldn’t accept it as fact and pointed the finger at the media for taking advantage of “the little guys” or some crap like that!!

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