California Recognizes Retroworks de Mexico

The Sunday Edition of the Sacramento Bee was a "Grand Slam" edition on E-Waste.  Reporters Tom Knudson and Hector Amezcua produced 4 pieces - 2 investigative reports and two videos - which brought to the national stage the problems of unintended consequences of legislation which destroys reuse value.

The first and main piece I blogged yesterday showed data on bad returns for California taxpayers in the ewaste management program SB20.   The reporter Tom Knudson travelled to Tucson, Arizona and documented actual loads of junk TVs snuck into California for SB20 redemption - using addresses freed up by resale of good product collected and switched in CA.

While the "legal" thing is to shred the good and working stuff, Knudson also shows the unintended consequences of THAT system, with a visit to our Retroworks de Mexico facility in Sonora.   Knudson and Amezcua spent two days watching Las Chicas Bravas demonstrate their training from Good Point Recycling.  It opens with a view of the benefits of honest reuse - Pentium IV computers donated by Retroworks to the only internet cafe in the town of Fronteras.

Mexican town turns U.S. e-waste into treasure

Every month, mountains of working monitors like this one are destroyed in California under the state's e-waste recycling law. And that angers Robin Ingenthron, the Arizona e-waste dealer who donated the monitors.

Adding to that outrage is his concern that California, by paying a bounty of $15 to $18 for old monitors, has triggered an illegal cross-border trade of out-of-state e-waste, draining the supply in Arizona.

"They are paying good people to break good equipment," Ingenthron said. "They are making computers and Internet more expensive for students in the rest of the world."

John Chen, executive vice president of the Tung Tai Group, a San Jose e-waste recycler and exporter, called the situation "a crying shame."

"Nine out of 10 monitors that come in are working," he said. "And what do we do? We destroy them and sell them for scrap."

In recent months, Ingenthron has taken his case – via e-mail – to Jeff Hunts, manager of the e-waste program for CalRecycle.

Hunts is interested but not optimistic.

Read more:

As an added benefit, the Sacramento Bee online shows film and slide shows of ECS in Santa Clara CA, CEO Jim Taggart, describing what CA SB20 is supposed to do, with high tech shredding equipment and some of the best refining technology.  He contrasts that with the "informal sector" in the export market.

Then, Amezcua interviews Alicia Valenzuela and Victoria Ponce of Las Chicas Bravas, who describe earnestly their intent to do things the right way, as the women have been trained to do in Middlebury Vermont at Good Point Recycling.

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