CHICAGO (CN) – An electronics recycling company claims in court that after it paid a nonprofit to environmentally certify its recycling process, the nonprofit falsely accused it of shipping toxic waste to China, to “create a false reputation [for itself] as a crusader”.
Intercon Solutions sued Basel Action Network and James Puckett in Cook County Court.
Intercon is an California-based electronic recycling company with a plant in Chicago Heights. Basel Action Network (BAN) is a Washington nonprofit that certifies e-recycling businesses under its “e-Stewards” program.
“In return for payment of BAN’s fees, BAN audits e-recycling businesses to determine if they qualify for its ‘e-Stewards’ certification,” the complaint states. “BAN assures such e-recycling businesses that they will obtain a competitive advantage because BAN purports to act in an ethical and impartial manner during the certification process so that customers of e-recycling will rely on BAN’s assurances that recyclers with BAN’s ‘e-Stewards’ certification adhere to the industry standards regarding environmental responsibility and worker protection, when such e-recycling customers decide whether or not to do business with a particular e-recycling services company.
“In reality, however, BAN acts on a clandestine and partisan motive to publicly abuse, and ‘out’ (in the sense of revealing in a defamatory manner) the e-recycling businesses who relied on BAN’s assurances of good faith, impartiality, and confidentiality in applying for BAN’s ‘e-Stewards’ certification, but who BAN unilaterally chose not to grant the certification so BAN can create a false reputation as a crusader and ethical leader in the e-recycling industry, in order to increase enrollment in BAN’s ‘e-Stewards’ certification program and increase its revenues.” (Parentheses in complaint.)
Intercon claims that BAN made an unauthorized tour of its facility, and “wrongly concluded and made false public accusations that two containers parked on Intercon’s premises contained hazardous e-waste materials, that Intercon owned the supposedly hazardous e-waste materials held within the containers, and that Intercon shipped the hazardous material to China and Hong Kong.”
“In reality, Intercon did not own the alleged hazardous e-waste, did not ship the containers or any e-waste to China or Hong Kong, and never shipped hazardous material to China or Hong Kong,” the complaint states.
The complaint accuses Puckett, BAN’s executive director, of publishing a defamatory letter on the BAN website, stating: “(T)here is substantial evidence that during the period of time that Intercon Solutions was contracted to be certified, Intercon Solutions exported hazardous electronic waste to China … in violation of the e-Stewards Standard for Responsible Recycling and Reuse of Waste.”
In another press release, Puckett allegedly said that “[i]t is very sad that many e-waste recycling companies continue to pose as ‘responsible recyclers’ while they continue to export toxic waste … In this case, we can take some satisfaction that our e-Stewards Certification screening methods and audit caught what BAN has every reason to believe is a violator.”
Intercon seeks an injunction and damages for defamation and false light.
It is represented by Svetlana Zavin.