BAN phones in response to ISRI

BAN has quickly reacted to the ISRI policy.  ISRI's policy is to prove and document that any exports are legal and environmentally sound prior to exporting.  BAN says that the exports cannot, by definition, be legal or environmentally sound.  That sounds like job security for BAN - if the developing world can never hope to achieve sustainability, their job as a watchdog is secure.

BAN says in their press release that a USA policy which requires documentation of proper recycling is worthless.  Evidently any export of used computers, if some of those computers get properly recycled rather than repaired, is the same as dumping.  While ISRI requires proof of proper recycling as a condition of export, BAN has stated again, on the record, that people who manufacture and assemble computers cannot disassemble or recycle properly.  Given BAN's premise is that Indians, Chinese, Malaysians, Mexicans and Indonesians (all hosts to major electronics manufacturing hubs) cannot do this work that therefore it's impossible for such proof to exist.

White marble floor factory, CRT engineers with patents, Mercedes in the parking lots... it doesn't matter to BAN, it cannot by definition be done properly.

Jim Puckett of BAN says in his release:
“If a developing country like China or India had everything it needed to properly manage hazardous wastes like e-waste, it would no longer be a developing country." 

In the first part of that sentence, BAN sneaks in the premise that TV repair is the same as hazardous waste management, which is not true anywhere.  Neither the USA nor any country I am aware of regulates electronics repair and refurbishment as a "waste disposal" industry.

The definition of "developing" is also apparently naive.  Chile was invited to become a member of  OECD in 2009.   Singapore is still not an OECD member.  But Chile mines the copper for the electronics and engineers in Singapore design them. India and Mexico have the most developed metallurgy, with China coming up fast in the rare earth metals that are increasingly relied on in cell phones and other electronics.  The components are made in China or Malaysia, and then the electronics are assembled in Mexico, Indonesia, or India.

Last month BAN claimed that an export of computer or TV monitors back to a factory which made those monitors (manufacturer takeback) was equivalent to dumping and burning the CRTs in a primitive backyard operation.  BAN was sure enough of this to call in 9 containerloads of CRTs destined for the TV manufacturer takeback operation as "hazardous waste" without looking at them or visiting the factory.

ISRI is calling on American scrap industries to document the contents of the container and to not only visit the factories, but to audit them.  ISRI is also raising the bar on recordkeeping and documentation of the refurbishing and recycling industries.  BAN just slams this without carefully looking at it.

I guess BAN has given up on EPA, given up on WR3A, given up on ISRI, in the same way BAN has given up on the developing world (where the world's tallest skyscrapers now are).  It is indisputable that the developing countries are building cities and factories and building our electronics.  But BAN disputes it is possible for those countries to take apart a monitor safely, so they say ISRIs policy of certifying that the monitor factory is handling it safely is impossible.   I guess I have given up on BAN because no matter how much the Mexicans and Malaysians and Indonesians and Indians and Chinese try, no matter how sustainable their electronics manufacturing industries become, BAN has labeled them as retarded grass monkeys,  living in mud huts and burning wire.  I'm not the one to call BAN a racist organization.  But I have heard them called that while visiting some of the refurbishing factories which BAN has yet to admit exists, and yet to set foot in. 

The developing nations BAN talks about are not perfect.  But many of them are far more developed today than the USA was when the OECD was formed.  If BAN is so certain, I hope Jim Puckett looked on the back of the monitor he composed his press release with.  Where was it made Jim?  Where does "manufacturer takeback" go from here?

Is the perfect the enemy of the good?

BAN has done a lot to raise the bar and improve the situation in the USA's own scrap recycling industry.  BAN has also frightened overseas importers into investing in proper recycling and documentation of their unrepairable leftovers.  But during the past few years, BAN has been isolating itself from engineers in the developing countries, from environmental enforcement officials, and now from ISRI, the representatives of USA's own recycling industry (which after all are the ones BAN says should be doing all the recycling, right?)  After some constructive discussions in 2004, BAN has retreated into its insular habits, throwing labels, taking photos of poor children on scrap piles and not of Las Chicas Bravas or Egyptian med students or Malaysian CRT engineers.  As BAN isolates itself, the organization is going to pull some environmentalists into their Jonestown.   Outside, we will continue to build the capacity in developing nations which they need to handle the scrap they produce themselves.  Countries with 3000 per capita income are getting online at ten times the rate of the USA, and they are doing it with computers which will one day become e-scrap.

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