Ten "Feel Good" Facts about E-scrap Recycling: Gorillaz and #ewastegate

Gorillaz band photo.jpg
Maybe it was the Hans Rosling video?  Maybe I really am manic?  Or maybe a thaw, a "correction" is on its way.  

Without forgetting about the #Hurricane exporters, it occurs to me that there's actually really good news about "e-waste recycling".   Rather than emphasizing the "environmental malpractice", here's another way to look at it.


This is ultimately a happy ending.  Everyone was told there was a crisis, in ghoulish halloween hyperbole, singed with #ewastegate statistics, toxic adjectives and sad-eyed (brown) children.

As it turns out, the "third world", as we knew it in the 1970s, has virtually gone away.   And households in Africa who make a living fixing used electronics earn six times more than average wages, meeting the needs of growing cities without mining for coltan or cutting down rainforests to expose gorillas to tantalum digging.  

It's good work and it turns out you never needed to boycott these people in the first place.   And more good news keeps coming...

E-Waste Hoax 2015: PKDs Myth Busting Trip To Africa

Ok readers, you know my thing.   Be that guy.  

"All right then, I'll go to hell."  

Winston Churchill Quote that having enemies means you stood up for something once in your life.

Now, how do I announce the trip I'm planning this morning, without setting myself up as the next generation of exotic #whitesaviorcomplex hero, cruising to Africa, to visit geeks of color who've visited me in Vermont?  Visiting People I've done a little bit of business with, though without much profit to show for it.

Actually, this business (both African trade, and "being that guy" who stands up for it) has cost my business and my employees tremendous stress.   And we have to ask ourselves, how seriously should we take junk?  Someone threw it out once already, how long will they want to be forced to think about it again?  And how can my clients support hiring us, having seen the PKDs? (see below).

PKD Africa 2007:   Photo I couldn't resist taking on my last trip to Africa

Hans Rosling's "Don't Panic" = Best Documentary / Talk I've Seen All Year


This is brilliant.   Please watch it all the way through.  Hans Rosling is explaining what I call 3B3K much more elaborately than I have been able to.

Hans Rosling's TED talk was (I think?) produced by BBC and redistributed by National Geographic.

It's 60 minutes long, but Environmentalists and Recyclers everywhere should be strapped to a chair and forced to watch it.

If Rosling added all extraction (mining metals, fresh water, habitat) as well as energy extraction, it would be stronger.  But he will perhaps get a wider audience by focusing on the one hashtag.

Regulations: The Purpose of Rules

When there are Guidelines or regulations, there are reasons to follow them and enforce them.

  1. There is a positive environmental effect to the rules (or negative impact from not following the rule).
  2. "Rules are Rules".   If Rules are not enforced, other meaningful (see #1) Rules will also not be enforced.

If it is #1, there should be a science or test to demonstrate and constantly improve on the rules.  If for example there is a different rule (Universal Waste vs. EPA CRT Rule) in Vermont vs. NH, MA, NY (our three border states), enough time has passed to know the pros and cons attributable to the differences.   It's not about the alleged ego clash between 1990s MA DEP David Struhs vs. EPA Region I's John DeVillars.

If it is #2, I can accept that... So long as the Rules are applied evenly and to everyone.  If Vermont has a different rule from NH, MA, NY, and is applying the rule for consistency, you expect to see the same citations to my list of 9 other electronics processors in the state.