The Parable of the Country Doctor:
Let's say your community has two doctors. One of the doctors, Dr. Atticus, has been there for two decades. He treats children, old people, men and women of all ages. He bought the county's first x-ray machine and got a loan for a CAT Scanner. Dr. Atticus' reputation is that he's humble, he refers people to the best option available, but that he will treat anyone in need who comes to him... and hope to get paid somehow, with vegetables if necessary. But he mostly pays for his small business with radiology and treatment of the folks who can pay. For major surgery, he prefers to send people to the hospital at the capital, but he has been known to remove an arrow from a dog, and has been around for more than a few events of emergency appendectomies.
Along comes a new doctor, his name is Poindexter. Poindexter is a sports surgeon - he doesn't treat the older generation. Really, he only serves insured people with sports related injuries.
No one accused either Atticus or Poindexter of doing anything wrong, but imagine there are a lot of stories about quack doctors ripping people off with snake oil and fake medicine - and harmful x-ray machines. Imagine there's an outrage over the practice of bad medical practice. People want a higher standard.
Bad Antidote Network decides to raise the bar on medical practice by starting a certification program. Only the very, very best doctors will be certified as a medical Steward. They announce that if you need an x-ray, only an M-Steward can promise certified health management.
Atticus is pretty busy and doesn't have a lot of time to chase after this standard, because his office is always full. Poindexter, on the other hand, is only treating a few healthy professional athletes right now, and he spends a lot of time learning about the standard and preparing for certification. He convinces Bad Antidote Network that any physician worth his salt must own and operate a Ortho Stabilizer Pro 6000 x-ray machine, as it is the only one which can detect pitcher's elbow stress to the 1,000th degree. The OSP 6000 is acknowledged by all to be the highest and best x-ray equipment.
Atticus actually likes the OSP 6000. He refers his high school pitchers over to Poindexter's if they have a sore arm, and recommends Poindexter for other sports injury patients as well. It doesn't make sense for your community to finance TWO Ortho Stabilizer 6000s.
Then BAN (Bad Antidote Network) and Dr. Poindexter hold a press conference. They state that people should only use a certified doctor. The only certified doctor in your town is Poindexter, because BAN will certify only the best x-ray equipment as "certified medicine".
Poindexter did work hard, but he only had to certify one type of treatment for one kind of injury. It is going to take Atticus months or years to certify everything from child tonsillectomy to stroke treatments to high blood pressure... there are dozens of types of treatment he prescribes.
Then BAN kind of implies that their M-Stewards program is the only way to make sure you are not using a quack... They say that you cannot be sure that Atticus is not a quack if he is not an M-Steward. They charge Poindexter money to maintain his certification, but imply that he will benefit from their advertising against his competitors.
1) Can Dr. Poindexter treat appendicitis?
2) How many of the current certified E-Stewards on the BAN.org website recycle televisions?
My blog-debate back and forth with BAN.org and NRDC unfortunately starts to resemble an attack, from both directions, when we are treating defensive wounds. I am defending the "Dr. Atticus" - proper exports, R2 Standards, etc. I use E-Steward end markets for the 50% of our electronics that has no hope of repair or recycling - we ship vast quanities of CRTs to ERI, one of the E-Steward Founders (I used to be an executive of the Massachusetts facility ERI took over, and know they are capable of destroying bad stuff... I just don't use them for the repairable stuff). I do not mean to imply that Poindexter or E-Stewards are bad, just that they are best for a specfic type of used electronics - the unrepairable focus materials.
On the other hand, it seems to me that BAN.org criticizes R2 standards, and for that matter, many recyclers with neither certification, especially recyclers in rural areas who have to meet a lot of different needs. Good Point takes stuff and outsources some of it to people we think do a pretty good job... but by accepting it, we are creating another trail to certify. If we never accept a typewriter or a lamp, if we only take in Pentium computers, gaining certification would be a lot less work, but our community would be without the "general medicine" meeds that the Dr. Atticus meets, even if he doesn't have time or money to certify his practice for removing splinters.
Companies like Newport Computers Recycling and Redemtech are not bad companies, not at all! They no doubt do many things better than Good Point does, just as Poindexter is a better doctor for pitchers' elbows. They have deliberately chosen to enter a field of recycling - higher end, off-lease, corporate PCs without many TVs - which has very high margins and relatively low difficulty. Staples and Goodwill Industries of Northern New England are good companies, but they have done the same, managing only the "aluminum cans" in the blue box.
Good Point Recycling can recycle used PCs to the same standard that they do, but we also handle tons and tons of residential equipment like huge projection televisions and consoles with lots of regulated CRT glass. I'm not saying we are better than them. I'm just saying if we had less activity to certify, we'd be faster at certifying than we are now. I think R2 will have this problem as well. If all the recyclers who specialize in hard drives or cell phones or laptops sprinkle the map as "certified recyclers", how does it look for the companies who do the heavy lifting?
Open your mouth and say, "Ohhh!"