California SB20 Exposed! Legalize Exports, Dudes

It has taken two years, but we have finally exposed what happens in Arizona, via the California SB20 system.  Kudos to Tom Knudson and Hector Amezcua, who visited our Retroworks de Mexico operation last spring.
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California's pioneering e-waste program a model gone wrong

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When our Retroworks de Mexico program saw its bid for the City of Tucson electronics reversed and awarded to a more expensive operation, they claimed they would keep the material in the USA.  We watched to see what would happen.

Here's how CA SB20 got involved.

Two recyclers, ARC and Global Comp One, shared a warehouse in Los Angeles.   They exported computer monitors to "Big Secret Factories" in Asia, which is not environmentally a problem, but it is not allowed under SB20 to be redeemed for the taxpayer deposit.  Of course, Arizona TVs are also not eligible for the CA deposit.

The switcheroo:

  • ARC gets decent monitors turned in from legitimate CA residents, about 35 pounds each.  They ship the monitors to the refurbishing factory.
  • Global Comp One goes and buys junk TVs from Tucson.  They weigh about 100 pounds each.
  • ARC then sends the Arizona TVs to ERI in Fresno, getting the collectors share (about 20 cents per pound) times 100 pounds, or $20 each.  The good monitors they sell to Asia for $5 each.
  • What ERI or CalRecycle should have figured out was that the weight per address would be more than double the average recyclers, since small monitors were getting replaced with big ugly TVs.  That would not have required the "red handed" address verification.  
  • This crippled the economics of the honest Retroworks de Mexico operation, and has given ARC and Global Comp One an unfair advantage bidding on university and other state surplus markets (they don't need to worry about bad ones, they recycle them for CA SB20 money), and an unfair advantage selling to the Big Secret Factories with their CA subsidy.
The Retroworks Proposal:  Legalize It!
(As originally proposed in April's "Saving California" post...)  

What CA SB20 should do is LEGALIZE the Big Secret Factories.  Then other CA recyclers would be on equal footing with the cheaters, and Arizona material would not have a free CA address to sneak in with.  The quality of exports to the factories would go up as CA material entered the market and they could be more picky.   Hurt the worst would be the sleazy east coast recyclers who used the artificial shortage (created by CA non-cheaters) to mix in more bad monitors as Toxics Along for the Ride.  It would also provide for faster reconciliation of glass, and faster payment to SB20 processors, and would avoid an often glutted CRT cullet market.

From Big Secret Monitor Factories - Legitimate Reuse vs. "E-waste"

From Big Secret Monitor Factories - Legitimate Reuse vs. "E-waste"

Note:  Even Basel Action Network allows stripped whole CRTs to be exported for refurbishing and reuse factories, as in the photo above.  Unfortunately, California goes a step further, and requires "tube cancellation" or ruining the vacuum, making these unrepairable.   Only California rules make export in this form illegal, Basel Convention, country import laws, E-Stewards, and R2 all recognize this as a legitimate form of export.  Legalize it, California.  Dudes!

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