A Day in the Life: Honest Used Computer Exports

We get hundreds and hundreds of these requests through WR3A.   I just wanted to share a sample correspondence, received in the past 10 minutes.

Dear Mr. Ingenthron,

I am interested in importing used computers to from the US to East Africa. Does  your organization provide services related to linking potential buyers to legitimate exporters? If so, what can I do to benefit from this service?

Thank you and regards,


Typical Response

Dear E.,

Depending on where you are in East Africa, we may be able to help. However, the process is long, it could take many months.   

We already have a list of WR3A USA sellers / exporters who we know remove and properly recycle very high percentages of the electronics which they collect in the USA.  They certainly have capacity to remove junk and recycle it properly.  

The next step is to get a purchase order from your company for EXACTLY the type of material you wish to import. While the USA recycler is capable of recycling what you don't want, there are many buyers requesting different grades of materials, and humans in the USA or your warehouse can make mistakes.

The third step is to agree on pricing.  Sometimes we fall down at this point, as we have many, many prospective buyers.

The fourth step is to agree on a Purchase Order.  The purchase order will define what you are paying for, and what you will do if anything is damaged in transport.  Typically, WR3A members pay you for proper recycling, though we have also had shipments returned to third parties with recycling capacity.

The fifth step is (once everyone has become comfortable) to establish reporting, reconciliation, and audits to demonstrate that your facility is legal and sufficiently well capitalized.

We are seeking a partner in East Africa who can do simple repair and refurbishing, who could also donate excess inventory to a United Nations school internet program we are working with.

After that, we usually turn the trade over to individual parties, unless one of the parties wishes to continue using my company as a broker and/or exporter of record.

We need constant communication so that changes in prices and demand are handled in a timely way.

Robin Ingenthron

If you go through this process, it's less likely you will export millions of pounds of material by mistake.  It's called "fair trade".

Was that so hard?  Does this really demand an export ban which eliminates income for USA recyclers and leaves Africa unable to afford new computers?  

Please go online and donate to or join the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association.  It's a group of recyclers who are who they say they are and do what they say they will do.   We can all just get along.

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