Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who uses EarthEye™?
EarthEye is designed for use by enterprise companies, institutions, non-profits and governments who want to ensure that when they dispose of e-waste it goes to the right places according to contract and the law, and not to cybercriminals or substandard recycling overseas.
2. Who owns EarthEye?
EarthEye is wholly owned by BAN (Basel Action Network), an internationally respected non-profit environmental organization based in the USA. BAN is best known for establishing the gold standard for electronic recycling known as e-Stewards. EarthEye is operated as a stand-alone business, with all profits going to BAN to support its environmental protection mission.
3. What is the unique service that EarthEye provides?
GPS technology is not new and GPS trackers can be purchased off-the-shelf online. What EarthEye offers is far more than that.
BAN has been tracking electronics devices for over 10 years and have conducted the world's largest e-waste deployment programs. In that time, we have developed a unique methodology including chain of custody photographic verification and have harnessed the best technology available to do the job. The system includes:
- Our EarthEye Portal provides you with instant real-time views of your trackers on your office computer or on your mobile phone. The portal is custom-built, and constantly improving, and designed for tracking wastes and shipments -- not for managing fleets. For example, it provides names of nearby recyclers for electronic waste. It interfaces seamlessly with Google Earth and google maps so you can virtually "visit" endpoints with "street view".
- EarthEye uses the EarthEye “Scout” tracker, a proprietary tracker that is uniquely designed for us to track objects and not vehicles in a way that provides top-of-the line responsiveness to GPS satellites.
- We provide installation technicians or can train your staff to do the installations.
- Guidance documentation is provided on the subjects of installation, deployment, and using the customer portal.
- Customer service available to provide interpretations and trouble-shooting within 1 business day.
- Reports on legal and policy issues implicated by the movement of trackers. BAN staff are among the most knowledgeable experts in the world regarding transboundary movements of hazardous waste. A report is always provided at the end of the annual subscription and interim reports can be arranged following noteworthy movements at an additional cost.
- We are committed to staying on top of technology changes to always offer the best hardware and software and procedures to do the job.
4. Can EarthEye track other things besides e-waste?
Yes. EarthEye can be used to track all kinds of solid materials including wastes, products and asset shipments to ensure they are on course and are always traceable. Contact us for more information on such uses.
5. Does EarthEye serve the electronics recycling sector?
BAN already provides similar tracking services to e-Stewards Certified Recyclers as part of the e-Stewards performance verification program. e-Stewards Certified Recyclers that wish to show their customers that they will do more, can augment that program with extra trackers that they can place within their own stream. This can be accomplished with an "EarthEye for e-Stewards" contract as a value-added service at a discount.
To ensure the integrity of both the e-Stewards and EarthEye programs BAN will not offer the EarthEye service to any recyclers/refurbishers not operating under the e-Stewards Standard. If you are not yet certified, but want to use EarthEye tracking, contact us to learn more about becoming e-Stewards Certified or discuss introducing your clients to the EarthEye service.
6. How are EarthEye devices installed?
First, we discuss with the client what kinds of equipment they wish to track and whether they want it to be made non-functional or not. Our trained technicians open the equipment to be tracked and securely install an EarthEye tracker inside in a manner that optimizes contact with satellites. From the outside, the tracker cannot be seen. The trackers are tested and made operational prior to delivering to you. Self-installation is also possible following an online training course to ensure uniformity of service and optimal results.
7. What types of equipment can be tracked?
To deliver a minimum of 3 years of battery life EarthEye trackers are currently installed into printers, servers, CPUs, LCD and CRT monitors, and other, more bulky devices. Laptops, phones and tablets are not suitable for EarthEye at this time.
8. Can your trackers report from all over the world?
9. How do the Earth Eye Scout Trackers work?
EarthEye's Scout trackers are like little smart phones with Global Positioning System (GPS) readers in them. They utilize mobile phone technology to send information gathered by the GPS. The smart phones work "machine-to-machine", sending GPS data via phone messages to our independent third-party server. GPS is a network of about 30 satellites orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 20,000 km. Once our GPS Scout trackers have information on how far away at least three satellites are, our GPS trackers can pinpoint your waste’s location with surprising accuracy (often within 10 meters). This location data (latitude and longitude) will normally be received by our server every 24 hours. This server data is partitioned in your own password protected client account and accessible from the internet from your mobile or computer via your EarthEye portal. Data is shown on maps or from customizable reports.
10. How does the equipment deployment work?
Once the EarthEye team has installed trackers into your equipment, we will ship the items to you and provide you with shipment tracking information for your order. The deployments will be conducted by members of your team with the use of our guidance document. Usually a customer will ship the tracker enabled equipment to the downstream vendors of your choice without letting them or anybody else know which equipment is tracker-enabled and which is not. If you would like for members of the EarthEye team to also perform the deployments, this can be arranged.
11. How do I track my e-waste?
When your EarthEye trackers are deployed, you can use a secure login to view your trackers in real time on your EarthEye portal.
12. How long will the EarthEye trackers last in the field?
EarthEye trackers are designed to deliver at least 3, and up to 4 years of service without needing to change or recharge batteries. However, BAN’s previous studies have shown that most of our trackers reach their final destination and/or cease reporting within 12 months. In some rare cases, we have identified movement 18 months or longer after deployment so we keep them turned on. Sometimes e-waste is stored in warehouses for a long time and will be covered up an unable to access the GPS, and then will be uncovered and show in another country. Subscriptions are generally for one year, and we recommend automatic renewal allowing you to watch former year's trackers as well as the current year. While you will only have access to your tracker data while your subscription is active, should an EarthEye tracker flag an important issue after a subscription expires, EarthEye will still endeavor to provide that information to the customer.
13. Is there a risk of the tracker batteries causing explosions or fires in the field, or in a shredder at a recycler?
BAN has undertaken a lot of research to avoid using lithium-ion batteries or other batteries that can easily explode or combust. What we are using now are among the safest batteries available anywhere. Our batteries are the same as those chosen by NASA for equipment they cannot afford to have catch fire in high oxygen environments in space.
14. Where can I deploy these trackers?
Companies may only track their own downstream waste or company owned material. Our contract strictly prohibits using our services against competitors.
15. Who has access to my data?
Your tracker location data goes directly from the satellite to a server held by a independent third-party under contract to never release or touch the data. No other parties, including EarthEye/BAN, can manipulate the data.
While BAN is known for its advocacy and watchdog work in regards to the transboundary movements of hazardous waste, EarthEye is a service that operates independently and under a strict non-disclosure contract, ensuring that a clients' data remains proprietary and for their use only. Should the client find any problems within their downstream, the EarthEye contract only stipulates that clients will take corrective action on any likely illegal shipments and will report to BAN on such action.
Thus, EarthEye/BAN is unable to report your proprietary data with the exception of having the right to annually publish high-level aggregate data from all customers revealing only the exporting and importing countries and the type of electronic equipment involved. This data is useful to the entire industry.
The only exception to the rules noted above is when EarthEye is used by e-Stewards Certified recyclers. These will operate under a different contract that affirms the EarthEye service is subordinate to the e-Stewards Standard and its policies when any violations of the standard are discovered.
16. Can EarthEye help me comply with various industry and government regulations?
Yes. EarthEye’s GPS tracking services can assist your organization in ensuring your downstream due diligence, and compliance with your internal policies, e-Stewards or other standards as well as international waste trade regulations (e.g. the Basel Convention).
17. How much does EarthEye cost?
Pricing is based on the number of EarthEye units to be deployed and the length of your subscription. e-Stewards Enterprise companies that make best use of e-Stewards Certified Recyclers qualify for special pricing. Please contact us to discuss the best EarthEye package for your organization.