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Eco-champions champion environmental issues within organizations. The Eco Champion will lead a Taskforce’, a team of counselors from all parties, and the local community to listen to ideas and work together to tackle these problems. The group will look into areas such as what we consume, what energy we produce and use up, how we get around and how we can reduce and dispose of our waste.

The NGO MONiTOUR was set up as an Eco Champion as a joint project between the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the MIT Senseable City Lab and has led to the discovery of previously unknown international electronic waste routes departing from the United States.

Printer, and LCD and CRT monitors were embedded with GPS trackers capable of remotely reporting their location from overseas locations. These trackers were then delivered to recyclers and charities around the country. 65 of the first 200 trackers delivered as part of the Monitour/e-Trash Transparency Project went offshore, mostly to Asia.

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The watchdog group focused particularly on Dell and Goodwill, which partner together to recycle old computer equipment. Dell, like other brands, says that it doesn’t export e-waste. But the trackers show that isn’t always true.

Puckett and a small team followed the trackers to underground work sites in Hong Kong, where they discovered workers handling parts made of mercury, which is toxic even in small amounts.

“They’re stripping down the material, breaking it up in a very dangerous fashion, exposing workers to mercury contamination,” he says. “The toners are probable carcinogens. They’re dealing with brominated flame retardants.”