In what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has called a first in an electronic waste case, a federal court in Michigan has sentenced a company that brokered used electronic goods to a $2-million fine, plus more than $10,000 in restitution, and sentenced the company’s owner to a $10,000 fine and 39 months in prison for illegally exporting used electronic goods.
According to EPA, the company sent at least 300 shipments containing used cathode ray tube computer monitors on which the original manufacturer’s labels had been replaced with labels indicating an incorrect manufacture date. The shipments went to Egypt, which outlaws importation of computer equipment more than five years old. The government asserted that the relabeling constituted counterfeiting of the goods. It also asserted that monitors using glass that contained lead are required to be disposed of as hazardous waste and that storage and shipment of the monitors failed to meet standards under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. An EPA spokesperson said, “EPA is committed to taking action on illegal exports of e-waste because they often end up in countries that lack the capacity to manage them safely.” See EPA News Release, March 25, 2013.