10 Things we Know about Basel Action Network's "Earth Eye", and 1 We Don't



  1. We know BAN is not placing GPS trackers into any devices that don't LOOK ready to reuse. Not a single CRT or projection TV (over 50% of ewaste) was tracked by BAN, ever.
  2. We know BAN claims to be "cutting wires" to sabotage the devices, which likely get repaired anyway.
  3. We know that BAN controls distribution of who gets what type of device... 14% of all GPS trackers BAN released in Canada went to one guy who had a lawsuit vs. BAN.
  4. We know BAN has a financial interest in the outcome (through E-Stewards) worth millions of dollars.
  5. We know that BAN's press releases interchange their proposed "Ban Amendment", which has not passed, for Basel Convention international law, which allows export for legitimate recycling and repair.
  6. We know that BAN mysteriously "obfuscated" several end points in Asia, when devices arrived at legitimate reuse and legal recycling centers.
  7. We know that BAN picks specific people to accuse, even in cases when that person exported nothing.
  8. We know that BAN profiles the overseas tech sector and reuse technicians as "primitive" and "informal".
  9. We know that the "developing nations" BAN describes as "primitive" had cities with TV stations and millions of households using electricity a half century ago, and produce most of the "ewaste" at their own dumps.
  10. We know that the first instance of GPS tracking, of TVs sold to Nigerian born TV-repairman Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics, led to false testimony ("80% not reused") by the UK prosecutor, and environmental injustice (imprisonment of Benson).


What I can't figure out is why the press gives this organization any ink.

Follow the money. 

This is the To Kill a Mockingbird moment for the environmental community. You either sat by while this NGO made this happen, or you spoke up to #freejoebenson


The Privilege of Being Offended by Appropriation

Living in Vermont, with a wife teaching at Middlebury, and three college kids, I am very aware of political correctness, privilege, and offense.  The "victimhood jujitsu", where something you say or hear puts you or someone else off-balance. The passive aggression, finding subliminal intent where none was on the sayer's mind.

Not that I hold the conservative view... just addressing the educational tactic of reverse-labelling.

Worn to my first recycling job interview
PC culture may be a good thing or a bad thing. But political correctness may have unintended consequences when it emboldens a type of anti-bully, a Madame LaFarge, to call out privileged people for oblique intent. Indeed, some of the political right of Brietbart give credit to liberal college shaming to emboldening them. Like in jujitsu, the left shifts its body weight to anticipate the right's weakness, and the right re-leverages its body weight to counter.

Like sloshing in a bathtub, this kind of immature discussion makes a mess.

Insecurity about our inherited history can cause us to project insecurity onto others. It bears a lesson most societies have taught us to resist.

Panel Discussion - How to Address 4 Weaknesses as a Business Owner

In a couple of hours, I will be sitting on a panel at the 2018 Electronics Reuse Conference. Topic - How to Address Weaknesses as a Business Owner - was the first to tempt me for 5 years.

Good Point Recycling opened in April 2001.  I bought a used truck with a $15k bathroom improvement budget, and didn't hire the first full time employee for 3 years. The first 3 years, I was mostly doing consulting gigs between truck runs. If your weakness is "talking too much", charge by the hour.

I used to speak at conferences pretty often 20 years ago, 15, 10 years ago. But one of the weaknesses I found that we all have is this - speaking to your peers, to other businesspeople, to competitors, etc, sucks. We are all weak when our audience consists of people who know or think they know as much as we do. If they agree, then they sat in a session to hear the obvious. If they disagree, "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."  Generally, don't do it. I generally try to refer invitations to WR3A to Tech Sector people from Mexico, Ghana, Malaysia, etc, who really can tell an American audience something they don't know.

This topic, however, is about weaknesses. About addressing my own weaknesses. So I accepted. It should be an opportunity to self-deprecate and tell some funny stories about near-death experiences.
I'll start by acknowledging my survival. We will have a moment of silence for some late, great, fates.  In alphabetical order, here is a list of companies which I'm pretty sure were at one point part of the 10 largest electronics recyclers in the world (or claimed to so be).

Allied - 2006
DMC - 2006
HMR - 2006
Creative - 2014
CRTR - 2015
Eco International - 2013
EWSI / 2TRG / CLRR - 2016
Intercon Solutions - 2013
MPC - 2015
WeRecycle - 2015



Right To Repair in Nashville: Red Light, Green Light, Purple Light

Here in Nashville for Electronics Reuse Conference.  Formerly the TechSoup conference, which had mostly NGOs engaged in the Digital Divide, the conference is now managed by a private Chicago company. I was proud to receive a "Jim Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award" last year, when the conference was in New Orleans. Jim Lynch himself nominated me - and said he had done so every year since the award was established in his name, a something that really touches me.

Jim and I shared a 5 hour drive from the Retroworks de Mexico plant in Fronteras, Sonora, a few years ago. We shared a rather romanticized concept of India in our youth.  I didn't go there to meditate, as Jim did for a year.  Perhaps because when I said I intended to, my chum Sri Chatrathi from Fayetteville High School remarked "Go smoke pot in your own country, we don't need any more white hippies in India."


This week, Nashville is about the Right to Repair. A lot has been happening, and more of us are realizing that a Right To Repair is simply an invitation to Manufacturers to restrain their own speed. Once the government has a chair at the table, look what happens.

Feds say Hacking DRM to fix your owned phone is LEGAL.

Consumer Reports Magazine covers this as well.