E-Scrap News

MPC loses e-Stewards certification

The e-Stewards certification of Materials Processing LLC has been withdrawn for one year following a $125,000 fine from Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency.

Materials Processing (MPC) was recently fined for stockpiling 2,500 tons of CRT glass in the St. Paul-Minneapolis metro area. Now, an investigation by e-Stewards has found the company was also using an undisclosed warehouse space in Philadelphia to store end-of-life electronics.

In a letter sent to MPC and obtained by E-Scrap News, e-Stewards’ executive director, Greg Swann, writes the violations in Minnesota and Pennsylvania were “willful and egregious” and marked by “multiple instances of dishonesty.”

A press release sent out on behalf of MPC states the company is “disappointed by this decision from our colleagues at e-Stewards and we’re working with them to appeal this situation.”

While MPC representatives note in the release that “we made a mistake,” they do not make specific mention of the warehouse in Philadelphia allegedly discovered by e-Stewards.

Numerous attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful.

According to Jim Puckett, executive director of the Basel Action Network (the creator of the e-Stewards standard), an appeal of the one-year ban has not been received by e-Stewards.

The formerly certified facility in question is the Mendota Heights, Minnesota headquarters of MPC, which is the only remaining processing location operated by the company. E-Scrap News learned in April a former Philadelphia location, which was certified to both e-Stewards and the R2 standard, is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit seeking back-rent and damages from the company (see link above).

MPC has been a significant player in state electronics recycling programs, and until last summer it held a contract with the manufacturer-funded Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Group (MRM).

A lengthy investigation begun in 2013 by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found MPC had been using a series of unpermitted warehouses near its headquarters to store and stockpile CRT glass in Minnesota. The improper storage led to a $125,000 fine last month from Minnesota regulators and a consequent investigation by e-Stewards officials.

Beyond the glass management issues cited by environmental officials in Minnesota, e-Stewards discovered more violations in Philadelphia. After confirming the closure of the Philadelphia processing location, e-Stewards visited a rumored warehouse operation where “a significant amount of used electronic equipment was found to be in storage as well being recently moved and shipped.”

According to an e-Stewards evidentiary report, “MPC did not disclose the existence of this site, even when asked.”

“The existence of an unreported ancillary site in Philadelphia creates considerable concern,” the report states. “This is a site outside of auditor scrutiny where non-compliant and critically non-conforming activities could have taken place.”

The yearlong suspension is the second instance this year of e-Stewards punishing processor actions. In February, Diversified Recycling was suspended two years from applying to be certified due to downstream mismanagement of CRT glass and operating an online business that allegedly sold non-working electronics to overseas buyers.

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