Revisiting Blogism: Naked Juice

I've been from Perpignan (France) to Barcelona (Spain) to CDG Paris to New York City JFK airport, where I sit now, waiting for the flight to Burlington Vermont.  Boingo wireless, wifi in France, it's been nice to post photos to Facebook rather than send postcards. redemtech

During some slow periods in the vacation, I read my blogs of Christmas past, starting in 2006.  They were very journal-like, too wordy, and rather introspective.   I also read some more famous blogs of note, with thousands of daily reads.

This set of posts is incredibly specific, dealing with specifics of a recycling issue which is controversial in its time.  The theme is that students of environmental policy can learn best from our mistakes (mine or yours) if we chronicle the dialogue, subtext, and controversy.  Again, I could be wrong.  But when I read my past posts, it's pretty clear that I'm sincere in my approach to recycling.  Recycling beats mining, so improve it without shutting it down.

In the Good Point Ideas Blog, I chronicle trips to overseas markets, apply economic theory to my practical insider vision, and have tried to honestly disclose my own biases and self-interests.  The blog boringly but logically explains our company's processes.  The point is to write honestly about what I have seen.  The worst recycling practices.  And the very best recycling practices.  In the same countries.

It's therefore fascinating to read blog posts by another "owner-operator" of another e-waste recycling company.  On my visits overseas to my end markets, his company's material was being unloaded side by side with mine.  There was nothing wrong, in my opinion, with his company's exports.   I asked the guy who was buying them, and while he was not too happy with the ratio of P3s to P4s on this load, he was ok with the Ohio supplier.  As he was ok with my product.

Personally, I kind of think the other CEO seems willing to push his Malaysian buyer-friends under a bus to gain BAN's accolades.  I don't compete with him directly, he doesn't much touch the residential/municipal material we manage.  He goes after corporate suppliers who are risk averse and wealthy, willing to pay a lot to have very repairable and valuable material taken care of.  We have a lot of hair on our meat, and more crap to remove.  In a way, my company should be defending BAN's vision of no "toxics along for the ride", and he should be explaining just how nice commercial e-scrap is to the developing world's high-tech remarket.

Perhaps his company no longer ships to the processors we shipped to together - the ones who care less whether a power supply is "tested working" (as they will replace it anyway for 220v clients), and care more about the speed of the processor and raster of the cathode ray tube.  But there is a certain introspection lacking, given the apparent conversion.   If I stop shipping good units to buyers in Jahor Bahru, KL, Jakarta or Penang, where we both shipped in the past, I will tell you I used to ship there and will tell you why I stopped.   I will NOT post wire-burning monkey photos and act like I never shipped the capable technicians there, as I like to sleep at night.

(Video removed by 2014)

I used to ship CRTs to China.  They were good factories.  But the Chinese government owns virgin-CRT manufacturing capacity, and does not want "grey market" or "second hand" products competing with their CRTs.  They made it illegal and took away all the import permits.  So I moved to countries - Indonesia and Malaysia, which had similar factories but still issued import permits.  Other USA recyclers still ship to the Chinese reuse market, either via Hong Kong or to Viet Nam for overland shipping to Kunming.  There are Chinese CRT refurbishers operating in special "import-export zones", like maquilas, that appear to have valid permits.   But we chose not to play cat and mouse with the Chinese Communist Party.

Details, Details:   The more specifically honest my posts, the longer they get.   The CEO promoting e-Stewards is more succinctly written. But his experience with both good export markets and the USA front companies which exported his CRTs "less transparently" would add flavor to the blog.   He and I were both invited to process our CRTs through a USA company.  I inspected the company and found it to be a sham recycling operation, and when the EPA and China enforced against the sham recycler, I could tell our clients they had nothing to worry  about.  And even if most of the CRT monitors visible in 60 Minutes Hong Kong fly-over were going to good factories, I can write the truth about those factories AND assure our clients we DID NOT SHIP CRTs to Hong Kong.

As a forum to market his company, the Other CEO takes a simpler route.  His advocacy of BAN and E-Stewards probably serves well. Explaining his personal experience with the export market would produce longer, less accessible posts.

I'm sure my blog fails to win new risk averse clients, though it may help retain the long term clients served since Earth Day 2000.  If in 20 years, only profits we made now matters, he will have cleaned my clock.   If, as I believe, the Singapore-azation of Malaysia, Indonesia, and Egypt makes them tigers, BRICKs, economic and development successes, then his participation in the denigration of their capacity to refurbish and recycle - given fair trade economic incentives - will be shameful.

While Singapore reached better-than-OECD status on an economy based on imports an refurbishing, that door is being slammed on Egypt, Kenya, and other nations with a "ban on imports" of western (working and repairable) CRTs.  

Oh, yeah.  While I was on vacation, I got news that Indonesia drank the BAN Kool-Aid and took away the import permit for the big secret factory.  The one described by NRDC as a primitive wire burning operation.  NRDC has never been there.

If you are one of the students who reads this blog - my favorite audience - I hope you will research Singapore and the "repair and overhaul".  I'm generally handicapped in disclosing the specific, proud, hands-on refurbishing factories for fear their import permits will be taken away.

Ok, anti-export campaigners, I dare you to shut this down.   Here is a really big operation importing Western Goods for repair and refurbishing, which replaces and recycles a lot of electronics.  Rolls Royce has an aircraft "repair and overhaul" or R&O operation in (gasp!) non-OECD member Signapore.  Western countries send our Boeings and Airbuses there to be completely overhauled.  Under my (and EPA and UNCTAD and others) interpretation of Basel Convention Annex IX, that's a good thing.  BAN, I invite you to explain whether this operation is legal and if so, what is the difference between Singapore overhauling a jet and overhauling a CRT monitor?

I probably need to at least prioritize the more substantive pieces, like "Top 10 Myths", "We Shouldn't Have to Make that Choice," "Big Secret Factories", some of the critical posts on certification, 60 Minutes, and "Proud to Be an Exporter".  I'll work this week on a "Top 10 Posts", and start the painful process of cleaning up some of the redundant and derivative posts which may dilute the facts about ethical e-waste recycling and fair trade recycling.

I hope to just get a good night's sleep tonight.
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