Vermont Legislation to pass; Haiti on Hold

Vermont Agency of Natural Resources did not express much interest in this e-waste bill a year ago, but they jumped in this time and took the reigns. For Good Point Recycling, that was probably a good thing, since they share many of our concerns about "ghost tonnage" and "hit and run" (OEMs coming in and holding an event to claim tonnage and then leaving the smaller towns to fend for themselves).

The committee was very patient, though not infinitely patient.

I will write more later but wanted to take a moment to share our concern for our partners in Haiti. We had looked into trading with Haiti (for reuse) during the past 9 months and connected with a United Nations digital divide program, which was looking for cheap and working CRT monitors (not a repair operation, these needed to be tested working). We had a TV repair and truck repair operator that we found in Miami who traded in Haiti and hoped to have him find the monitors in Florida (through WR3A members) and test them there. We did a load of TVs and learned things (like he cannot use anything over 19" because the power grid in Haiti is so weak that 27"+ TVs don't start up, not enough juice).

I met the buyers following up an old connection in the used truck business. A Haiti buyer had purchased a Mack Truck from Earthworm Inc, the non-profit recycler I worked for in Boston in the late 80s until 1992 appointment at MA DEP. Jeff Coyne there found a photo of the Earthworm truck, logo and all, in Haiti, and I found a Haitian woman who purchased used trucks for repair. She like that I could communicate in French. I liked - loved - the fact that when I described our truck for sale, the 1998 Freightliner FL70, that she immediately asked whether it was an Allison tranny or the Dodge tranny (the FL70s in 1997-98 had a massive recall over the Dodge transmission, and it was one of the first things I learned when I bought the truck used in Memphis, from Ron at L&B Freightliner, that I was very lucky I had not bought one of the "Dodge Ram" transmissions.

This older lady grilled me in Haitian francais over the specs on the truck, and then we discussed whether it was still possible to fill the box of the truck with clothes and pots and pans and stuff like was done in the 90s with the Earthworm truck. She said she still made most of her purchases from Thrift shops (Salvation Army and Goodwill) and shipped them to Haiti, but she said that since 9/11 that the rules for moving full trucks had changed and made that business model nearly impossible. But she sent her son and son-in-law up to Vermont to visit Good Point Recycling.

We were trying to connect her repair business with the UNGAID program and a Christian missionary group in Haiti, and I'd put the PO out for working monitors in the meantime. While the Committee was deliberating S.77 (and asking questions about evil exports), I was on the laptop canceling the purchase as news of the earthquake rolled out.

We had not really done any business in Haiti yet, but were preparing our first shipment of the tested working product and had to stop the shipment this week. We still have skids of the DVD players and stereos in the warehouse which the Haitian's son in law thought would be worthwhile to put in the truck and drive it to Florida (he'd transport the stuff to Haiti separately later).

I cannot imagine that our buyers are concerned about TVs and computers at this moment, though we will help them in any way we can when they are ready. But we would donate the truck now if we can get it to Florida, and I will listen for what they need in Haiti when Wadner and his mother in law are ready to focus on their business again.

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