USA Today Recognizes Fair Trade Recycling!

Breaking news!   Banning Exports is a Bad Idea

PLEASE take the time to read the excerpts below, and if you agree with them, post a comment at the USA Today web site.  41 African traders have been arrested for "e-waste" dumping in the past 13 months, based on hyperbole.  A major United Nations Environmental Programme research team spent 2 years examining seized sea containers and found 91% reuse - higher than brand new product sold in Africa.   The World Bank found 6.9 million households in Lagos had TV, and the ones burning at dumps were mostly generated by cities like Lagos, NOT imported.   BAN has reviewed the UNEP study and applauded it (though they still say 80% of it is burned as junk in this article!)

Please also support and join  Exports aren't perfect, but shredding working equipment and forcing Africans to buy in back alleys is not making them better.  Legal and safe reuse and recycling is our goal.

"Two years ago, Ingenthron launched a movement he calls Fair Trade Recycling to influence public opinion on e-waste. Fair Trade Recycling is based on the same Fair Trade principles Green Mountain Coffee Roasters has used so effectively with coffee, working to ensure growers the Waterbury company buys from in Central America and around the world receive a fair price for their beans and are able to steadily improve their living and working conditions."

"Katharina Kummer Peiry served as executive secretary of the Basel Convention for five years, from 2007 to 2012. Peiry, a Swiss attorney and specialist in international environmental law, helped to create the Basil Convention when she joined the United Nations Environmental Program in 1988. She believes public opinion is lagging behind the facts on the question of whether e-waste is being dumped.

"My perception is this issue was a significant issue 10 years ago but the situation has now changed in that the material price has gone up," Peiry said. "New technologies not available at that time make this material quite valuable. It doesn't make sense to dump it."

"Peiry says Basil Action Network has a "very strong stamp of credibility" built up over time and has been able to seize the high moral ground in the public discussion of e-waste. That concerns her for the same reason Ingenthron is concerned. She's afraid the legitimate and productive trade in recycled electronics will fall victim to concerns about dumping.

"There's a strong perception in the United States that the Basel Convention prohibits exports," Peiry said. "That's not the case. At this point there is relatively little awareness in my perception that discarded electronics are not always a problem, but can be useful."

"Josh Lepawsky, a professor of cultural, economic and political geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, is hoping to shed some light on the dumping debate with a $469,000 grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Ottawa. Ingenthron is a collaborator on the grant.

"Lepawsky and several of his graduate students have already done field work in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangaladesh, and reached conclusions similar to those drawn by Katharina Kummer Peiry.

"When we surveyed the people in this trade most of their imports were coming from elsewhere in Asia, principally China," Lepawsky said. "There are shipments that come from the United States to Bangladesh, but in terms of sheer number, they're in the middle to low end."

"Lepawsky and his students also found that most of the so-called e-waste shipped to Dhaka was being repaired, recycled or refurbished in some way, a business that presumably will disappear if a ban on exporting electronics is put in place.

"If the dangers of in-ground smelting need further study, Lepawsky is less reluctant to give his opinion of the consequences of banning e-waste exports.

"Bans are going to do something along the lines of the following," Lepawsky said. "They will harm people's livelihoods who are already at the margins in terms of economic survival. On that account, they may not be the best thing to do."

USA TODAY - Dan D'Ambrosio 9/27/2013

BullyBoys 14: Environmental Justice, Diapers and Cell Phones

Look out, this will be a strange blog post.

See, it started out as an email to a pal who is publishing a paper on the e-waste trade, and he wanted some comments.  And it's a really intellectual kind of a paper, you know?  Real Ph.D stuff.  And I start out by trying to make some intelligent comments.

Then that isn't working, the email's getting really long, and really meandering all over the place, and I'm gonna have to cut it.  But then it wound up in this really incredibly important place, explaining two things that I realize I thoroughly believe.  
  • The poorer a person is in an completed exchange, the more likely they are to be the expert, and the more their opinion should be valued.
  • Activities that reduce property value tend to take place in areas with lower property value. 
The first is really kind of the complete opposite of the whole EU, Interpol, Basel E-Steward thing. But the second says that nevertheless, there is a point to environmental justice.  

You don't fix the second problem by Bullyboy-ing Joseph Benson.

Open Minded Electronics Importer Gets R2 Shaft: CEFAD

There are way too many trolls on the internet.  People who are either super sure of themselves, or who get off somehow by acting that way, appear to go out of their way to shock and provoke insult.

trolling e-waste downstream markets
There are also too many wishy-washy agreeable people, people who 'like' whatever is being said today by the people they are near, most comfortable with repeating second hand impressions as fact.

And then there are really principled people, who really think they are good and fair, who really mean to do well, but they are caught in a tide of group-think.

Some of us cannot even see how our perceptions of reality have been caught in a kind of cultural gravity that general impressions cannot escape.   Many of these people are even agents of conscience, trying to make the earth a better place, as best as they know how.

It was someone like the latter to whom I sent the email (bottom, in yellow) for someone's first R2 (Responsible Recycler) end market report two years ago.  I have changed names, hotlinks, and email addresses, otherwise this is exactly what we sent.  This is a real case of "collateral damage"... no one meant to do anything but good...

Someone I wrote about in September 2012 is now out of business.

Boycotting the Third World? My Thought Crime About That

This weekend, USA Today and Burlington Free Press are were supposedly running two stories about my company, and about the Fair Trade Recycling summit.  Both stories were to feature interviews and quotes from Jim Puckett, who might say that my company is doing something wrong, even illegal.

A normal delay?  Did my blog signal someone to say something to someone?  What are the ethics (and smarts) of pre-defending yourself in a blog for a story yet to be published?  

I don't ship to these places any more.  I wish I could.

My company only exported 8 percent of goods intact last year.  That's 92 percent domestic USA processing.  And most of the 8 percent intact units went to Mexico, an OECD country, where the manual disassembly is a decent job compared to local mining jobs.   What we are actually doing that bothers people is defending people overseas, representing them to be not evil.  "Apologists" was Puckett's word.  I haven't seen the article yet, but I've seen what Basel Action Network has said about me and my company in print before, and heard him say I was promoting illegal acts to my face last week.

That's not an attack on what Good Point Recycling does.  That's an attack on our belief in other people.  Most of the intact units exported come from other recyclers out of state, material I buy tested working (including some e-stewards) and broker.  We do 2 shipments a year to Africa, and I brag about them, but they are less than a half of a percent of our 13 million pounds.

Still, I'm awake at 4 am wondering what the effect of a BAN accusation will be on my company and its employees.   Jim Puckett's quote is that I'm doing something illegal because the Basel Convention is going (in the future) to be amended to make export for repair or recycling illegal in the future.  His claim is false on its face value.  But when it runs in a headline, my company and employees will certainly be injured and be held to more scrutiny.

My belief that something should remain legal in the present doesn't mean I do it now, or will do it if it's illegal in the future.   If his quote runs, where is the line being drawn?   I don't ship to the factories in the photos above because Vermont doesn't want me to.  But it sucks, they are good companies, and the glass is just winding up in glutted piles.  But that's my OPINION, my belief.    Jim has said it's illegal.  My opinion is a transboundary movement.

Lines On Maps: Where the OECD was Hatched

Simple, Jim P. of BAN told me.   Follow international law.   He said he agreed with 95% of what Oscar A. Orta's presentation on "Fair Trade Recycling" said.  He applauds the Chicas Bravas.   But he said the Basel Convention Ban Amendment is simple.

That's a mouthful.   The Declaration of Independence Declaration of Independence Amendment (proposed, not passed) is what to follow.   Not the actual Basel Convention, Annex IX, B1110, which allows export for metal recycling and export for repair and reuse, which says nothing about "functional".

Definition of 'Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development - OECD'

A group of 30 member countries that discuss and develop economic and social policy. OECD countries are democratic countries that support free market economies. []
See the video at the bottom for the 1000 years history in Europe that culminated in the OECD.

Headline Says where E-Waste Is Born: No USA Birth Certificate

Back in 2010, before the blog's "Bullyboys" Series, before the "Firehose" Series, and before "Environmental Malpractice", or the E-Stork blogs, The UN released a report.  It said that if all the rich nations completely stop all (hypothetical, mythological, or actual) #ewaste exports from the OECD to developing nations - stopped 100% - tomorrow - you'd do nothing to stop the posterchild photos.

UNICEF poster circa 1985
UNICEF photographers share the $$
India has never been a significant destination for E-Waste, its ports are very tightly controlled.   The images of Techdogs and Nerddogs (to differentiate from "slumdogs", for those of you who don't yet get it) fixing stuff in Dharvi and Mumbai slums has nothing, nothing to do with Basel Convention or Basel Ban Amendment or CAER's export ban.

In fact, if you erased every international border crossing tomorrow, poor people would still be trying to get stuff from rich people in their own countries, from people on the other side of the tracks.  Rich people buy new stuff and poor people fix good-enough-for-them stuff.  It's like that in the USA used car and thrift shop market... jeez its so obvious I want to shoot myself for writing it again.

But at the E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, I still met lots and lots of people who think the Green-Thompson E-Waste Bill is a solution to primitive wire burning.  Big Shred will save the brown children.  And Lagos, with 6.9M households with television as of 2007, will... um... uh.

Yeah.   About that.  Here's the press release from 2010, the year that the Bullyboy Crackdown started, the year Greenpeace told UK journalists BAN's story about how the dumps in Africa were filled with material from the UK.   The year Joe Benson was targeted, a year before the Ghana E-Waste Assessment, and two years before the Nigerian E-Waste assessment studies found Benson and similar exporters sent 91% reuse - better than brand new product.
Urgent Need to Prepare Developing Countries for Surge in E-Wastes
Rocketing sales of cell phones, gadgets, appliances in China, India, elsewhere forecastProper e-waste collection, recycling key to recovering valuable materials, protecting health, building new green economyBali, 22 February 2010 - Sales of electronic products in countries like China and India and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next 10 years.
And, unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, many developing countries face the spectre of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health, according to UN experts in a landmark report released today by UNEP.
Issued at a meeting of Basel Convention and other world chemical authorities prior to UNEP's Governing Council meeting in Bali, Indonesia, the report, "Recycling - from E-Waste to Resources," used data from 11 representative developing countries to estimate current and future e-waste generation - which includes old and dilapidated desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions.
In South Africa and China for example, the report predicts that by 2020 e-waste from old computers will have jumped by 200 to 400 percent from 2007 levels, and by 500% in India
By that same year in China, e-waste from discarded mobile phones will be about 7 times higher than 2007 levels and, in India, 18 times higher.
By 2020, e-waste from televisions will be 1.5 to 2 times higher in China and India while in India e-waste from discarded refrigerators will double or triple. (continued)

Rank The Environmental Atrocity: Is Fraud Visible from Outer Space?

Multiple Choice:  If you could correct one thing, to protect the planet, sustainability, endangered species, and the planet, what would you choose?
  • Hard rock metal mining?
  • Diverting Interpol enforcement from Ivory poaching, to arrest African internet cafe investors?
Critics accuse Freeport-McMoRan not only of underpaying workers but also of destroying the environment in remote Papua and of decades of complicity in human rights abuses by the Indonesian military. Here, an aerial photograph of the Grasberg mining complex.

To the degree the last one belongs on the list, it's because of fraud.   The first fraud was BAN and SVTC telling California that the CRT monitors being shipped in 2002 were destined for dumps. They were being purchased by SKD factories.

The second fraud was, again, BAN and SVTC telling California that diverting those CRTs to "recycling" companies represented international law or environmental progress.

The third fraud was allegedly committed by the cathode ray tube recycling company ("Dow Management" in Yuma) which evidently took money for the tubes, stuck them in a warehouse, and ran.

Our war should be on fraud.

First do no harm.  Be true to thine own self.  Truth is not conservative or liberal, blue or red or green, truth is transparent, and only environmental and recycling systems based on truth will be sustainable.

(By the way, I had access to other 'close up' photos with children in them, but believe it contributes to poster child exhaustion, we all need to de-escalate the emotional button-pushing)

Bullyboys 12: George Wallace and Collateral Damage

How We Rationalize False Arrests and Misused Authority

You might feel better that some of the men hanging from the trees were no angels.   You might take consolation in the bribes and forged dates and mislabeled bill of ladings on some of the 91% reused and repaired equipment.   But there's not much "pollution crime" to see  here.   I have hundreds and hundreds of photos of men and women who were accused, some of whom lost their businesses.

They were arrested thanks to one gnome-like dude in Seattle, who enlisted an exotic photographer, and made up a strange, bizarre, unsupported statistic, framed with words like "ghoulish" and "macabre", "skeletons" and "witches brew".   E-Stewards ran and got the rope, tied affordable internet to a wooden stake, and applauded while dictators lit the match.   It was a witch hunt, charged with racial exoticism, misleading photography, water samples from downstreams of textile mills, rumors and hyperbole.

It's all recorded on my hard drive.  I have a suspicion, they will get me next, somehow.  Three years ago an E-Steward company came and offered virtually every one of my Vermont clients to collect their junk TVs for a penny a pound.   It was predatory pricing, and the sole purpose was to put me out of business.   And they probably justified it to themselves by calling me an "exporter-lover".  I see them circling around a CRT glass recycler who refused to join E-Stewards, refused to pay for "certification".  With the  foreign market now better researched, they will turn on the domestic recyclers, and manufacturers.

To Kill a Mockingbird.  That accuser made the story up.  There were no facts to support the accusations against Tom Robinson.   And there are no facts about Benson, or Semarang, or Penang factories.

The 80% "statistic" is a lie, it's a fabrication.  It comes from a single source, a man so certain of his mission that he calls the very people targeted "collateral damage".   Personally, I don't think that definition works when you declare someone guilty, aim your gun, and shoot them.

Bullboys 11: "My Generation Did WHAT??" to CRT Glass Markets

So I used to sell to Egypt, now I don't.

I used to sell to Indonesia, but it's illegal now, so I stopped.

And for years I exported to Malaysia for refurbishing, and that factory - which recycled 100% of accidental breakage at the CRT glass furnace in KL - no longer speaks English.  We gave them a price cut in return for their obtaining ISO14001 certification.  They began a takeback program, creating a domestic Malaysia CRT recycling infrastructure...

It's all dead.  Supply and demand.

The E-Waste Industry, at the EScrap Conference in Orlando, will be talking about there being no demand for CRT glass, cathode ray tube cullet.   But that's not exactly what there's no demand for.

There's no demand for self-righteous bigotry and b******t.

Back to the drawing board.  I can cross off lots of places that are expensive to visit, expensive to audit, and give R2 Auditors the heeby-jeebies.  Turns out, the heeby-jeeby feeling is mutual.  In Vermont, we have practically eliminated CRT export for reuse.  I could become an E-Steward right now, if I was willing to pay the dues.  I'm not doing anything they don't want me to do.

So gee... I should look back at the invitation to join E-Stewards, the gracious invitation extended to me last
winter.   Sure, I'm qualified now to be a "steward".  But, it's wasted on me.  See, I'm really not into calling innocent people guilty, and the whole making myself look like a better recycler by making other people look worse.   If an all white country club chased off my colored fiance, and said now I could be a member, I wouldn't be too keen with all that.  

I'm E-Steward qualified, E-Steward eligible, E-Steward compliant. I'm a good ole e-waste steward boy. Just got to show them my downstreams and write them a check.

When You Have Time to be a Great Writer: BusinessWeek on Recycling

This week Bloomberg BusinessWeek runs a whole chapter from Adam Minter's upcoming book "Junkyard Planet", which is coming out in November (but you can advance order it, as I have).

I've only gotten through about a third of the article, and I'm already pleasantly stunned.  There's Johnson, the scrap man I know from my days at Electronicycle.  He's a Chinese copper trader, who taught many of us in the e-scrap business much of what we know about the metal chemistry of many of the electronics parts and wires we get from de-manufacturing.    Adam drove across the USA ("9,600 miles in 26 days") with Johnson in a rental car.
"It’s an essential trade. In 2012, China accounted for 43.1 percent of all global copper demand, or more than five times the amount acquired by the U.S. that same year. A modern economy can’t grow without copper. One way to get that metal is to dig holes in the ground; the other is from scrap. Since the mid-1990s, China has taken both approaches, with scrap accounting for more than half of all Chinese copper production every year (peaking at 74 percent in 2000). Because China is still a developing economy, it doesn’t throw away enough stuff to be self-sufficient. 
That's a brilliant explanation.  I've got it here somewhere, I think to myself, tongue in my cheek... somewhere in my thousand blog posts, I've made that point.. probably repeatedly.  But like the difference between a ten pounds of copper in one kilogram, or ten pounds of copper in ten kilograms, finding that information through my blog comes at a high price, and requires a lot of mental sorting (and there's that noxious burning smell in too many of my posts).

It's music to my ears, you could say.  Music about settling accounts.
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