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Law Agencies Raid Electronics Recycler

Agents in SUVs converged on Supreme Asset Management & Recovery's facilities in New Jersey

Just as BusinessWeek was going to press with an in-depth "examination of the electronic-waste recycling industry") (BusinessWeek, 10/15/08) focused heavily on Supreme Asset Management & Recovery, multiple law-enforcement agencies raided the Lakewood (N.J.) headquarters of the company, a leader in the field.

Dozens of agents in dark SUVs converged on the company's facilities in central New Jersey on the afternoon of Oct. 15.

Supreme is one of the biggest electronics recyclers in the country, processing 100 million pounds of discarded computer monitors, TVs, cell phones, and other tech gadgets each year. The company is paid to handle the electronic waste of large corporations, such as JVC and Telcordia Technologies, as well as municipalities, such as Westchester County, N.Y., and Baltimore County, Md.

Mercury Levels

BusinessWeek's article focused primarily on Supreme's role in the lucrative trade of sending e-waste overseas, where it can bring impressive profits, especially in Asia. The article also revealed that regulators in Virginia have raised concerns about mercury levels and worker safety at a Supreme affiliate in that state.

On Oct. 15, agents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New Jersey state police arrived unannounced at Supreme. The EPA declined to comment, saying the investigation is ongoing. It deferred questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark, which had no immediate comment.

Supreme says it is not worried by the probe. "We're used to the EPA and DEP dropping in like this," said Fran Kirschner, a spokesperson for Supreme. "We're following all of the laws and regulations. When the EPA files its report, everything will be fine. We're not worried about it."

Elgin is a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Silicon Valley bureau. Grow is a correspondent in BusinessWeek's Atlanta bureau.

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