Fifth Method of E-waste Exports: Beyond Belief?
Without data, export policy is defined by our beliefs of what is happening.
Method 1: Say everything is "tested working". Then export whatever you want. Refuse to export the good stuff unless they also accept the junk. Get Americans to believe your lies. Good outcomes are beyond belief.
Method 2: Say "No Intact Unit", destroy / cancel everything, export only "clean scrap". Complain bitterly about the economics of your business model. Applauded by Method 1 advocates because you take your material out of the market. Good outcome? Beyond belief!
Method 3: Insist on "fully functional" and "tested working", removal in advance of any parts that may require repair. Verification is your word that you have shipped all "fully functional". No report of "incidental breakage" or post reporting, you are sure it is all good because you said so, and we believe you, and we believe you will take the time to test them and remove parts prior to export to retail buyers (the ones who buy tested working are usually not factory refurbishers, though they sometimes are).
Method 4: Find out what the overseas market will pay the most for. For example, a non-working but screen-protected LCD is worth $22 at a Malaysia repair factory, but a tested working Trinitron CRT is worth only $1. Keep records of the trade, reconciliation of receipt, and verify proper recycling of anything reported to unsellable (including tested working items without market demand). Two sets of data - exporter and importer - provide cross-references. Blind shipments (the importer does not know who the exporter was and what their record of size, model, etc. was) make fraud unbelievable. Paying more for junk than for tested working? Beyond belief.
Method 5: The California Compromise combines the post-reporting of #4 with the pre-testing of #3. I'm open minded to the possibility that California recyclers really will do both and that the quality under the combined method will be better than either #3 or #4 by themselves. Combining conservative shipping with believable receipt data goes above and beyond either R2 or E-Stewards.
We have to believe it will work before we abandon #3. I won't support closing a factory that needs 100,000 to stay in business because the #3 or #5 doesn't show up with product.
If #5 (which is #4 with WR3A post-audit from #3) does indeed supply the 100,000 units, with fewer recycled, my opinion won't matter. The factory will buy #5, putting the #3 and #4 Method E-waste recyclers out of the export business. The demand for refurbishable units at contract manufacturing facilities, unlike demand for gold scrap and copper scrap, is finite, depending on month to month orders. I believe that if the California Compromise works, the factories will stop buying from USA recyclers who send lower quality or more residue.