China's SCC and Aster Graphics Named As Main Source Of Toxic Chemicals

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Date: Thursday January 10, 2019 11:06:20 am
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    German Publication Name China's Static Control Components and Aster Graphics As Main Source Of Toxic Chemicals In Toners.
    China cartridges obviously contaminated with pollutants on a massive scale
    (Translated to English from it's original version)

    New tests conducted by ETIRA show that Chinese new built cartridges (NBC) are
    contaminated to a far greater extent with the banned toxic flame retardant
    decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE) than originally assumed. This is supported not only by
    the fact that eight out of nine cartridges tested to date have been heavily contaminated, but
    also by the high degree of specialization in the Chinese hardcopy industry: Insiders assume
    that a large proportion of the housings for Chinese NBC come from a single supplier, Huiwei
    (not to be confused with the smartphone manufacturer Huawei). Further tests, which are
    just starting, will soon bring clarity. Meanwhile, the nervousness among German online
    retailers is increasing significant: they rightly fear that they will end up having to take the rap
    as distributors of the cartridges and will be left standing in the DecaBDE rain by their Chinese
    (Careful, dangerous substance! New tests suggest that Chinese new built cartridges are
    contaminated to a far greater extent with the prohibited flame retardant DecaBDE than
    previously assumed.)
    DecaBDE-loaded China cartridges.
    Seldom has such an avalanche of news reports from us started such an avalanche as the
    investigative report "Ruthless Chinese Free Riders" in our September issue DI – Digital
    Imaging 5-2018: We were the first to discover that certain Chinese new built toner cartridges
    (NBC) were contaminated with extremely high concentrations of the banned toxic flame
    retardant decabromodiphenyl ether (DecaBDE). The substance is evaluated by the Federal
    Environment Agency as persistent, bio accumulative and toxic (PBT) and is suspected of
    having long-term harmful effects on embryonic development. Therefore, it is also on the list
    of 'Substances of Very High Concern' (SVHC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
    All important hardcopy tickers worldwide had taken up the topic at that time, and it was
    hotly debated in the industry. Also, in the Middle Kingdom the reports were followed
    attentively. Daniel Orth, Managing Partner of Tonerdumping, comments: "I know from
    Ninestar, our most important Asian supplier, that they started to convert production to DI –
    Digital Imaging just one week after the publication of the report. At Aster, too, the topic
    quickly reached the top floor, and they reacted accordingly." This shows how much the large
    Chinese hardcopy manufacturers are aware of the explosive nature of the whole thing. But
    even if Ninestar & Co. were to convert their entire production within a few weeks, the
    problem is far from being solved: since the Asians have literally flooded the European
    market with their new-builts in recent years, one must assume that hundreds of thousands,
    in the worst case even millions, of loaded China-cartridges are doing their job in European
    (In order to be able to accurately assess the health hazards for users of the DecaBDE
    contaminated China cartridges, we asked two renowned environmental toxicologists for
    their expertise. As soon as we receive their comments, we will publish them on the DI
    Shocking: Eight of nine cartridges heavily contaminated.
    In the original report in September it was 'only' about two cartridges from Static Control
    heavily contaminated with DecaBDE. In order to get a more accurate picture of the scale of
    the scandal, the European Remanufacturer Association ETIRA has commissioned its own
    tests in recent weeks. ETIRA has bought various new-built cartridges from Asian
    manufacturers via Amazon and had them tested by TÜV Rheinland/LGA.
    The results are shocking: out of five new-built cartridges tested, four contained DecaBDE in
    extremely high concentrations – between 2,000 and 17,000 mg/kg (!). The following newbuilt
    toner cartridges are specifically affected:

    – Bubprint brand (compatible with HP17A), sold via Amazon dealer Printer Cartridges Express
    – Prestige Print brand (compatible with HP17A), sold through Amazon dealer J&H Greentech
    and Trading Ltd. (U.K.)
    – Brand Koala (compatible with HP26X), sold through Amazon dealer Lucky Suppliers Handels
    GmbH (Germany)
    – Yellow Yeti brand (compatible with HP26X), sold through Amazon distributor Simple
    Printing Ltd. (U.K.)
    ETIRA could not tell us which manufacturers produced the contaminated cartridges of the
    more or less exotic brands. The only difference was that the four cartridges from Bubprint,
    Prestige Print, Koala and Yellow Yeti had high DecaBDE concentrations of 2,000 to 17,000
    mg/kg. ETIRA Secretary General Vincent van Dijk said that his main concern in selecting the
    test cartridges was that they should be products that any consumer could easily buy online.
    He therefore specifically bought cartridges that were prominently listed on Amazon. Of
    course, it would have been desirable to have the cartridges of the major Chinese
    manufacturers Ninestar, Print-Rite and Aster tested directly. But it was not postponed and
    ETIRA would have further tests carried out in January, including the major brands.
    Van Dijk was also shocked by the new results: "Our tests give cause for real concern. They
    show that in the case of DecaBDE we are not dealing with individual cases but with a
    systemic problem of Asian new-built cartridges containing extremely high concentrations of
    a dangerous substance. Many Asian manufacturers even complain that their cartridges are
    REACH- and RoHS-compliant – but obviously they are not. We at ETIRA therefore call on the
    responsible EU and national authorities to remove the contaminated cartridges from the
    market as quickly as possible!
    (When it comes to profit, European laws are sometimes ignored by Chinese companies –
    even when consumer health is at risk.)
    And the 'DecaBDE Oscar' goes to – Static Control...
    In addition to the five cartridges now tested by ETIRA and the two Static Control cartridges
    already analysed in September, a further cartridge was tested in November: It was a HP
    412X from Tonerdumping. The client was the same Remanufacturer who had already tested
    the two Static Control cartridges and who trusted us with the results at the time. The toner
    dumping cartridge was also heavily contaminated: The TÜV Rheinland/LGA laboratory
    measured a DecaBDE value of 14,000 mg/kg while the HP reference cartridge was clean. As
    Daniel Orth informed us upon request, the contaminated toner dumping cartridge is without
    a doubt a static control cartridge. When he bought this batch, he even wondered about its
    extremely low price, but didn't think much of it. Thus, Static Control is currently leading the
    not very praiseworthy 'DecaBDE hit list' with three contaminated cartridges…
    Welcome to the DecaBDE Club: Aster.
    Last but not least, we have already had the analyses of a ninth cartridge tested since June:
    These also come from our anonymous source. Since no HP cartridge was analysed as a
    reference for this test and the cartridge was not intended for the European market, we had
    previously kept the manufacturer's name under lock and key. We are now moving away
    from this because the analyses from TÜV Rheinland/LGA are trustworthy even without
    negative control. It is an HP 18A laser cartridge (black) from Aster. Specifically, it was
    purchased in Moscow in May and tested in June. Also, with this Aster cartridge a high
    DecaBDE load of 5,600 mg/kg was measured.
    The HP 18A is almost identical in construction to the HP 17A and is used in the HP LaserJet
    Pro M104A and M104W. These printers are sold in Eastern Europe, not in this country.
    Formally legally this cartridge may not be to be sued, because it was not intended for the
    European market – in the moral sense though it makes no difference whether I poison
    Europeans, Russians or Africans…
    This means that eight out of nine China cartridges tested to date contain a high
    concentration of DecaBDE – a rate of just under 90 %. And it is a real scandal: If there had
    been a need for proof that we are not dealing with a specific problem here, but with a
    problem covering the whole area, then this has been achieved at the latest with the new
    results of the ETIRA test series.
    (View of the Huiwei company building in Zhuhai: The first building of the new Ninestar
    factory can be seen on the left in the background – only 400 meters away.)
    Many contaminated cartridges – few suppliers.
    In addition to the high hit rate, there are other strong indications that Chinese NBCs are
    broadly contaminated with DecaBDE. Our research has shown that the diversity of suppliers
    in the Chinese hardcopy industry is not too far off: there has been strong consolidation in
    recent years, both at the level of finished cartridge manufacturers and suppliers. Insiders
    therefore assume that a large part of the housings for Chinese NBC come from a single
    supplier: Huiwei Corp. based in Zhuhai. Volker Kappius, Managing Director at Delacamp and
    spokesman for the network of German Cartridge Reprocessors (DKWU), has been closely
    monitoring developments in the Chinese hardcopy industry in recent years. Asked about the
    DecaBDE issue, Mr. Kappius explains that an estimated 60-80% of all housing parts for
    Chinese new-built toner cartridges are produced by Huiwei. In addition to the figures
    described to him, Kappius cites another indication: "Take a look at who set up a huge
    production facility right next to Ninestar's new, modern factory in Zhuhai two to three years
    ago: Huiwei…"
    To avoid any misunderstandings: So far there is no proof that Huiwei supplied the housings
    of the contaminated cartridges. But in view of the Chinese company's high market share in
    this segment, it is quite likely that Huiwei plastic parts were also used in the contaminated
    cartridges. Conversely, this would be a clear indication that we are most likely dealing with a
    problem on a large scale.
    (Cling together – swing together: The big German online traders are rightly insecure,
    because as distributors of contaminated China cartridges they are the first to be held liable.)
    Growing mistrust of Chinese suppliers.
    It is not surprising that the dealers of China cartridges are very unsettled by this
    development – especially the big online players on Amazon & Co.: They rightly fear that as
    distributors of the cartridges they will have to turn their heads and end up being left
    standing in the DecaBDE rain by their Chinese suppliers. We know from several
    conversations that our report of 17 December has further increased the nervousness of
    many online retailers: They immediately went into crisis mode, and the telephone wires to
    the Asian suppliers were really glowing after the publication. The Chinese answered the
    questions of their German sales partners about the contents of the cartridges in their own
    way: with long documents about the alleged REACH and RoHS conformity of their products.
    But paper is known to be patient. "If only one person in the entire supply chain – from the
    plastic granulate supplier to the finished cartridge manufacturer – is lying, then such a
    declaration of conformity is not worth a straw," complains a large retailer who does not
    want to be named. Another expresses his growing mistrust as follows: "It will go on as usual:
    the Chinese will continue as before. And we traders, who imported and sold the cartridges,
    are the fall guys." That's why he is also considering having his own tests carried out to be on
    the safe side.
    Further tests are currently being initiated by WTA and a second German remanufacturer.
    Both companies are not ETIRA members and want to create their own facts – as well as solid
    arguments for their sales team. "Which dealer wants to sell their customers cartridges that
    are heavily contaminated with harmful substances?" is the rhetorical question posed by
    WTA marketing manager Thomas Lentes. There is a need for clarification – and Suhl will
    gladly face up to this task. The fact that the Thuringian hardcopy specialist had twelve newbuilt
    cartridges from the major Chinese manufacturers purchased from various German
    online dealers on 21 December shows how willingly they are doing this. As soon as the
    cartridges are available, they are immediately transferred to the meanwhile DecaBDE-tested
    test laboratory of TÜV Rheinland/LGA.
    Giant opportunity for the European remanufacturing industry
    Of course, we will publish the new results as soon as they are available and place them in
    the overall context. In addition, we are in contact with colleagues from the public media
    with a large reach, so that they can also take up the topic: The high contamination of tens of
    thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of China cartridges with banned, toxic
    substances is no longer just an issue for the hardcopy industry: it is about the endangerment
    of millions of European consumers who are unsuspectingly exposed to dangerous pollutants.
    We therefore call on the German and EU authorities to finally apply existing laws
    consistently and to stop the import of Asian new-built cartridges into Europe until all
    suppliers have provided proof that their products are actually 'clean' and legally compliant.
    That is the least they owe their citizens!
    We firmly believe that this scandal is a real opportunity for the European remanufacturing
    industry to regain ground against the Asians. Not because we are opposed to global
    competition, but because we are opposed to this nasty form of distortion of competition. To
    grossly disregard laws and endanger human health is not a trivial offence. Here we share one
    to one the view of our US colleagues from Actionable Intelligence who wrote in their report
    of 18 December: "The problem of banned substances in new-built cartridges is a huge issue –
    and it gives both OEMs and remanufacturers a real chance to drive many new-built
    cartridges out of the market. (…) The DecaBDE scandal seems to have the potential to ban a
    broad range of new-built toner cartridges from Europe."
    Facts and Myths
    The harmful flame retardant DecaBDE has been banned from more and more product
    categories in recent years. After March 2, 2019, the substance may no longer be
    manufactured or placed on the market in Europe according to the REACH regulation. In
    electrical and electronic equipment, DecaBDE has been banned throughout Europe since 1
    July 2008. Since printer cartridges with microchips fall into this product category, they have
    not been allowed to contain DecaBDE for more than ten years. This is the unequivocal
    assessment of the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), and this is also the unanimous
    opinion of the experts we interviewed in the field of waste disposal.
    Here is the statement of the Federal Environment Agency in the original language: "In the
    case of toner cartridges, it must first be checked whether they fall within the scope of the
    Electrical Substances Ordinance or RoHS Directive 2011/65/EU. This only applies to electrical
    and electronic equipment. In this respect, toner cartridges with an electronic component,
    e.g. a chip, are covered by the scope of application. The use of DecaBDE for these has been
    prohibited since 1 July 2008."
    Some affected suppliers falsely suggest in their blog that contaminated cartridges may still
    be placed on the market until 1 March 2019, even if they contain DecaBDE concentrations
    > 0.1 %. Only after 2 March 2019 would the substance no longer be permitted in the EU. This
    is wrong and misleading. In fact, the deadline for a general DecaBDE ban in electrical and
    electronic equipment was a little longer ago – exactly ten years and seven months…
    Chinese Cartridge Pollutant Statistics for Beginners.
    Assuming that 400 million toner modules are sold worldwide each year, the German market
    accounts for 5-10 % of this, i.e. 30 million cartridges. Every second of these is an HP/Canon
    cartridge, which makes 15 million units. Conservatively, China new-builts in Germany have a
    market share of 20-30%. This brings us to 3.8 million China cartridges for HP laser printers
    sold in Germany each year. If the previous analyses were representative of the overall market – and there is no evidence to the contrary – then almost 90 % of all new-builts from China would be contaminated with DecaBDE. This would mean that 3.4 million contaminated cartridges were sold in Germany –projected for the full year 2018. Even if one does not consider the previous tests to be representative and arbitrarily makes the assumption that "only" every third China cartridge
    is contaminated, one would come up with 1.3 million contaminated cartridges per year.
    Broken down, this means that approx. 3,500 DecaBDE cartridges are bought here every day.
    While you were reading this report alone (15 minutes), statistically 35 German consumers
    received a contaminated China cartridge. Unsuspecting consumers who know nothing about
    the dangerous ingredients of their cheap toner cartridge. Dear authorities: Wake up and
    protect the health of German consumers!
    Evil raw material supplier…
    On 21 December Static Control issued a statement on the DecaBDE scandal via the 'Recycler'
    and other channels. According to this statement, the company's own cartridges have been
    analysed in recent weeks and the majority would comply with current environmental
    regulations. With a small number of cartridges, a prohibited substance was found in the
    plastic parts. The contaminated plastic would come from a "roguish raw material supplier".
    The company reacted immediately to ensure that all cartridges would be legally compliant in
    If Static Control thinks that this waxy statement, which does not even name the substance in
    question, is a remedy, then it is a huge mistake. Transparency looks completely different,
    and the explanation raises far more questions than it answers: Who was the "roguish
    supplier of raw materials"? How many Static Control cartridges are affected in total? Which
    other hardcopy manufacturers source their plastic parts from the "roguish" supplier? And
    above all: How many DecaBDE-polluted cartridges has Static Control already sold to Europe
    in recent months? What measures do you want to take to get the contaminated cartridges
    back from the market as quickly as possible? What about product recalls? Will Static Control
    compensate its European trading partners, who have been deceived just as much as the
    unsuspecting end customers, financially for the damage? Last but not least: What happens
    to the contaminated cartridges that dealers still have in stock? Do they get financial
    compensation for this…?
    By the way, the scandal is not only about European environmental regulations, as the
    statement by Static Control suggests. DecaBDE is a toxic substance that has been banned in
    European electronic equipment since 2008 and is suspected of having a long-term
    detrimental effect on embryonic development. That is a rather striking difference!
    Image result for Static Control Components and Aster Graphics

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