Mark Twain weighs in on CRT E-Waste Exports

Mark Twain:  
"It's not what you don't know; it's the things you know, that are not so, that really get you."

BAN seems to "know" that 80% of CRTs are waste, and that most of them are going to be burned for copper in backyard operations.  I have tried for years now to help BAN out, that this is "the thing they know that isn't so," and it is going to really get them.  They also seem to know what is inside sealed containers, and seem to know that the factory that manufactured TVs in the 1990s is now paying money for tubes that they burn in a backyard operation.

From today's Boston Globe:

"The Basel Convention considers cathode ray, or CRT tubes, hazardous waste, and it prohibits them from being sent to developing countries to be thrown away or recycled, according to the Basel Action Network, the group that alerted Indonesia to the shipment. To gain entry to those nations, many companies say the tubes are going to be reused or resold, the group said. Instead, it says, the majority of the tubes are burned, dumped, or, disassembled to extract reusable material by workers with little protection against toxins."

- Working or repairable CRTs are NOT considered hazardous waste.
- The majority of CRTs being exported are not burned, dumped, etc.

From yesterday's PC World Magazine:

 "[Puckett] What I was told by Indonesian authorities was that it was old TVs and monitors. Whether it is CRTs in the form of TVs or CRTs in monitors is immaterial. CRTs are listed in the Basel Convention ... as a hazardous waste."
- Puckett says he was told this by Indonesian authorities... but the Indonesian authorities say they were told the contents by Puckett.  Neither BAN nor Indonesian authorities opened the sea containers.
- Export of CRTs for reuse, repair and refurbishment is explicitly, in black and white ALLOWED under the Basel Convention, Annex IX B1110, it is NON-repairable or waste CRTs that are listed in the convention as a hazardous waste.  Puckett makes a statement which is only true if he knows the contents.

...But Puckett questioned whether CRT Recycling had tested all the electronics before shipping. Many countries are starting to require that electronics be tested before they're imported for reuse.
"You need to test for functionality, you can't just claim it," he said. 
- The containers were still sealed when received in the USA, the Indonesia government said they did not open or inspect the containers, but responded to an allegation by BAN that the load was not repairable and not working.   BAN says they suspect this or question it.  But BAN did not visit the factory or ask for the load to be inspected.  

Does BAN know?  If they simply suspect, and have had the containers turned back halfway across the globe to Boston, they should hold their press release until they know whether they were right, or they owe CRTR an apology.

The whole question turns on whether the Brockton MA load was good or bad.  I certainly don't know.  I don't want to be pulled in as an expert saying one way or the other whether the load was mostly bad or mostly good.  What I do know for absolute fact is that there are good, reputable CRT refurbishing factories in several parts of Southeast Asia, and that I used to be able to source for the most reputable ones from 5 different CRT suppliers in New England.  All of those companies have stopped supplying the good CRTs, explicitly citing fear of as the reason.  Now I cannot source the good monitors from good people, and I am unwilling to source loads from companies that I cannot inspect and vouch for.  The company in Brockton happens to be one I have not accepted CRT product from.  But if my friends in Indonesia are offered no other choice, I have to attack the organization which takes away their choices.  And that organization is BAN. (The used CRT factory in this photo is from Indonesia and we did inspect it, but it is not on the Island of Java or Semarang port where the Brockton TVs wound up).

Were the loads as good as the ones I used to ship?  Don't know, I have my doubts.  Was the Java factory as good as the ones WR3A has audited?  I just do not know.  The quality is bound to go down as more good CRTs are destroyed under the "no intact unit" policies, and overseas buyers have fewer suppliers to choose from.  I don't qualify many TVs for export, and cannot vouch one way or the other for TV refurbishment in Indonesia.  All I am saying is that Prohibition creates Al Capones, and that BAN's justification for the prohibition - that CRTs are "burned" etc., is a thing BAN knows that isn't so, and it's going to get them.

EPA is being attacked here, and while those attacks are largely hype and mostly unfair, it would probably do us all good for EPA to increase enforcement, to take away the onus of exporting for reuse and refurbishment, so that we don't have to take the word of a 3 person non-profit office in Seattle for what is in a sealed container shipped back and forth between Boston and Semarang.


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