2009 New Year's Letter to Recycling Clients

Good Point Recycling



Good Point Recycling PO 1010, 227 Pond Lane, Middlebury, VT 05753

January 20, 2009

Dear Clients,

2008 was an eventful year. We are always aware that you are the reason we continue to enjoy success. We have a lot to introduce to you as we begin 2009.

First, we were proud to open our new 50,000 square foot facility. After years of renting space in different locations (and transporting stuff back and forth between buildings), or adding services (like textiles or baling) just to drop them for lack of space, we realized we are here to stay. Buying the building allows us to proceed with several new endeavors (described below), to process more in house, and to set smarter shipping and marketing targets. We also hope to develop more career employees when the temperature falls below freezing. There are more photos of our facility and operations, and video, available online (videos also coming soon).

The new facility will allow us to roll out our next big announcement - brand sorting for reimbursement. We have agreements either directly or with the processors of the following brands: Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Samsung. There are still a lot of details to work out. For one big example, some OEM representatives want documentation that their product was accepted for free before they will reimburse it, but do not want to cover the cost of transportation. If they pay us for processing only and not collection, it means we need to work out what you can collect. To keep our foot in the door, we are allowing individuals to drive to GPR in Middlebury - but that's not a very effective or green solution. What we have offered as a compromise is to charge 18 cents per pound (TV rate), weigh the brand sorted items, and then subtract out (credit) your municipality for whatever the OEM credits us. We will send a separate letter describing our proposal, which is intended to reimburse back 100% of whatever subsidy we get from the OEMs for TVs.

Third, we were recognized as the nation's expert on exports. Membership grew in the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association (WR3A), a "Fair Trade" organization we founded. EPA hired WR3A as a consultant to identify legitimate CRT exports, and BusinessWeek, National Geographic, and CBS 60 Minutes relied on us for advice and perspective. The Consumer Electronics Association gave WR3A a grant to film many of the select buyers who represent the "fair trade" export market, as well as collections. We hosted and visited techies from Africa, Asia, Middle East and South America, and filmed what they can do. It's hard work to visit and qualify these markets, but we have to do it... In January, CEA presented a 3-minute trailer CES Show in Las Vegas, between two keynote addresses (CEO Craig Barrett of Intel and John Chambers, CEO of Cisco). "If computer exports are outlawed, only outlaws will export used computers". The full video of the CES keynote address includes our video (about 1/3 through)

Fourth, we participated on a national panel invited by EPA to define "Responsible Recycler" (R2) standards, meeting with other respected recyclers, government officials, and advocates from around the country. EPA posted the R2 standards in November, 2008.

Fifth, we developed our staff . Rachael was promoted to a nice front office, and Colin Davis returned from a year sabbatical (running his own business, Builder's Studio) to be VP of Operations.

In 2008 we hired a professional OEM auditor to visit our largest market in Malaysia in October. Every unit we send for reuse is accounted for through proprietary tracking software (developed by Good Point, 2006), and reconciliation reports done by the Buyer note fallout rates (about 6%, which are then recycled, with glass going to Samsung) Good Point has also helped the Buyer efforts to obtain ISO 14001 status this month.

There is more to report than we can squeeze into a letter, but our last bit of news is a bit of a warning. In a year largely defined by a world financial crisis, Good Point has seen rates from ERI (the Pledge company which bought Electronicycle) increased by over 50%. We briefly tried other CRT glass processors, but they increased their rates even higher than ERI within a few weeks. We will do what we can in-house, but the raw material markets for the demanufactured scrap have plummeted to pre World War II levels. We have strived to offer consistency, and don't chase prices at the expense of accountability, but you may want to plan on fee increases for your consumers until the OEM programs mature.

Vermont has offered convenient access to TV recycling for years now, thanks to clients like you. 84% of Vermonters can now recycle a TV in at least one spot, open six days per week, in their county or district. Everyone here at Good Point thanks you sincerely for your support. We wish everyone the best in the year to come. Attached is a short end-market audit which shows where material we collected from you went to last year.



Robin Ingenthron, president

American Retroworks Inc., dba Good Point Recycling

Alfred Lothar Wegener: Copernicus of Drift

Alfred Lothar Wegener

It's interesting that his idea about Continental Drift, proposed in a paper in 1912, was something he felt was not worthy of recognition because it was so patently obvious (and he credited several previous researchers for proposing it). On History Channel this AM, one geologist speculated about how many schoolchildren must have been shushed for proposing that the continents fit together like a puzzle piece. I remember vividly proposing it to my dad in Fresno, where I attended elementary school from 2nd-6th grade, and how he chuckled in an adult way and said it was a coincidence. I think my mother encouraged me more to question it, but the consensus was that it was a childish idea.

It's more interesting (in this blog) that Wegener was distainfully dismissed by geological experts for much of the past century, and he died vainly trying to find evidence to support the theory he labelled "continental drift". That geologists succumbed to "group think" and called him a doofas.


During Wegener's lifetime, his theory of continental drift was severely attacked by leading geologists, who viewed him as an outsider meddling in their field.[12] His hypothesis received support from South African geologist Alexander Du Toit as well as from Arthur Holmes, but was not generally supported due to the lack of a known driving force and the absence of evidence beyond the coastline shapes and fossil records. The possibility of continental drift gradually became accepted by the late 1950s. By the 1960s, geological research conducted by Robert S. Dietz, Bruce Heezen, and Harry Hess, along with a revision of the theory including a mechanism by J. Tuzo Wilson, led to widespread acceptance of the theory among geologists.

It sounds now like Nicolaus Copernicus.

(wikipedia) Although Greek, Indian and Muslim savants had published heliocentric hypotheses centuries before Copernicus, his publication of a scientific theory of heliocentrism, demonstrating that the motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting the Earth at rest in the center of the universe, stimulated further scientific investigations and became a landmark in the history of modern science that is known as the Copernican Revolution.
... (merge with wikipedia on Galileo)
In 1633 Galileo Galilei was convicted of grave suspicion of heresy for "following the position of Copernicus, which is contrary to the true sense and authority of Holy Scripture,"[34] and was placed under house arrest for the rest of his life.

So the comparison here is the power of groupthink, the power of the catholic church, and the power of self interested parties to steer public perceptions of the truth... but also that truth eventually comes out.

I like OEMs and wish only that I owned more stock in them. When I describe their self-interests, I think of them protecting their shareholders. With that said, the combination of group-think, poster child politics by BAN.org, and the threat of wannabe counterfeiting white box generic re-manufacturers is worth trillions, and it is the single best explanation for A) China's import policies (shredded monitors allowed, working P4s not allowed), and B) the best and simplest explanation for consensus between certain OEMs and certain policy jaggers in the US and Europe.

If anyone reads this someday, I'd suggest it would be a great environmental studies thesis topic to see how the gravitational pull of OEM interests affects implementation of versions of environmental laws. For example, there is was a soda pop company in California when I was a kid which used deposit bottles. But CA became the one state which doesn't institute its bottle bill via units, but by pounds of broken glass. There must be some folks who were in the smoke filled rooms in the 70s who could explain to an interested student how the "breaking for reimbursement" became the norm. Maybe it's a good thing, maybe they were trying not to suck the reuse deposit bottles into the recycling system (which led to the exemption of deposit refill bottles from MA bottle redemption laws).

Maybe it was concern about bottles being refilled with someone elses product. Sound crazy? Consider:

Coca Cola spent a lot of money developing the hobbleskirt bottle, patented by Alexander Samuelson of the Ruth bottling company, when "white box" copycat cola companies began competing in generic bottles. That, and a lot of advertising and marketing, helped Coke survive to be the giant it is today. A true "bottleneck" to entry in the field, it allowed a trademark and a stewardship to be recognized which the marketplace accepted (along with Pepsi and RC Cola).

Coca Cola has a museum in Atlanta around the hobbleskirt bottle and considers it their most valuable innovation next to their "secret recipe".

Is treating CRTs - which have much greater added value as working units - like bottles to be broken merely a hiccup, an example of bad concensus, or something else?

My point as always is that we have a limited amount of environmental dollars in the total M1 which will be spent from our economy, and we have to spend them wisely to achieve the most environmental benefit. Billions are spent now collecting mercury lamps, and the mercury from those lamps is exported to alleuvial mining operations as bad as the worst Guiyu riverside. We need to spend every billion as if it really means something.

I question the millions being spent every month to break working monitors and TVs. I've done it for 10 years. And I'm beginning to spend my spare time reading about Wegener, Copernicus, and Galileo. Surely the majority of people who rejected their new theories were not their intellectual equals. But surely they had intellectual equals, in the church or the scientific community. What did they know? When did they know it?