"The Know-Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and controlled by the pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British lineage over the age of twenty-one. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery." -wikipedia
I wrote a long post yesterday (Sac Bee Finds Guys). It took awhile to land on the theme of exactly what intrigued/bugged me about the Sacramento Bee article.
There are a lot of quotes from a lot of respected leaders. But in the end, for all the uneducated reader knows, China might still be buying the shredded product and burning that to produce ashy black rivers.
The consensus that making stuff smaller and more primary is the key isn't based on any demonstrated difference in handling of those materials.
Ashy black rivers come from burning stuff - plastic housings and wire cables. That activity happens here in the USA, too. Not every Chinese factory does that, and to make sure even fewer do it in the future, we should promote fair and balanced trade with reputable Chinese companies.
I'm disturbed the ethnicity of the buyer of ERI material in 2008 is de facto call for mea culpas.
The California consensus for a solution to bad practices in resource consuming nations appears to be:
1) No reuse
2) No hand-disassembly (except by Americans)
3) Even perfect recycling is illegal, if it happens overseas.
We cannot ignore or deny pollution from recycling in China, though it is well documented that MOST of that pollution is not from recycling, but from primary smelting. In article after article, we never, ever meet a "good guy" in the export market. In this article, it's apparently a given that exported e-waste produces suffering and pollution... it's never questioned whether it is the matter in all cases, most cases, or some cases. I've seen bad recycling overseas. And I've seen good. The message we are sending to students and first generation immigrants from Dehli, Calcutta, Guangzhou, and Accra is that they should be ashamed that their home country out-pays American companies for scrap, which they need to make stuff for American consumers.
I have met recyclers overseas who I consider better recyclers than anyone in California. And I would bet that a significant percentage of the e-waste recycling employees in all the the California companies speaks Spanish at home. To protect American industry, we need to provide more work visas to more scholars. We are turning away USA trained engineers, and then we assume that the engineering they do when they return home is primitive. We need more partnership, more transparency, and more trade.