Illegal 4G Smart Phones E-Waste Export Crisis!

I did it!   I broke down and upgraded to the nowest, wowest, HTC EVO 4g slim smart android google phone!  I was the coolest Dad at the Vermont High School for about 11 days.

Gently abused (the phone, not the kids)
I did it!   I broke the smart phone.  Threw it in the coat pocket, along with my car keys.  It still works but the top 20% of the screen is cracked and unreadable.  That's the newest email message, the most recent missed call, the selected phone number.  ("I'm not just the e-scrap company owner, I'm also a client")

I did it...  I looked up how to repair my cell phone on, the next 4G generation "Silicon Sam", which is infusing a ton of energy into supporting the "right to repair".  Here it is, IFIXIT article on how to do this very LCD repair.  Impressed, much.

But it would be so much easier for me to buy another phone and send this one (for $100 cash in my pocket) to a repair team I know overseas (not this one, but you get the point).  I know the repair team has all the tools in the IFIXIT how-to diagram.  I know they will be able to wipe the info and resell the phone, creating jobs for eager techs and selling affordable phones to eager geeks.  From Vermont to China to Cairo... North America to Asia to Africa.  A white guy sends the phone to a yellow guy who refurbishes and resells it to a black guy.  I've now listed the phone on ebay for $130.  High bidder for a similar item was from Hong Kong...!

My son liked my phone
But gee, my cell phone is not "fully functional". 

Oh, and gee, the Hong Kong address.  If the guys were in Singapore, no problem from the government, but China has said anything previously  owned by someone else is "waste", working or not.

Oh, wait, Singapore is a problem, too!  They have a higher per capita income and more engineers per capita than Paris or London or New York, but the City State is not a member of OECD.  You remember, the club of rich white countries that formed in the 1970s, that cutting edge indicator of technical wizardry. So BAN says they are illegal under the Stewardship banner.

Who's behind this nonsense?   Vance Packard, Planned Obsolescence, 4G?  4th Generation industrial-obsolescence-complex grey market police?  They are whipping up non-technical environmental watchdogs to support bans and restrictions on trade which do about as much good for the environment and protecting poor people as taking a dump in a public fountain.

So gee, I guess I can shred it, sacrificing massive environmental added value, carbon, etc.
Hurray!  I'm an e-Steward!

This is a train wreck.

There are of course WTO protections for some of this nonsense - commerce laws which keep nations from creating stupid artificial barriers to export and import of commercially viable product.  But laws on free and fair trade are over my head, and over the heads of most environmental activists.

I've written a few times this year about the case of CRT Refurbishing in Indonesia.  In the USA, a non-profit on the west coast declared a sea container in Boston to be full of "waste".  The container was turned away from the Indonesian port, sent back to Boston, with the SEALS still in place.  Indonesia never looked inside, the Enviro group never looked inside, but they released a press statement with NRDC declaring victory.  R2 Solutions this morning hesitated to put a photo of the factory (taken during the legal period) in their Product Stewardship blog, as it "raises questions" about the "must be legal" rules in R2.

So gee, there are major risks if I send this HTC Evo for reuse overseas.  Under the Gene Greene bill, I'd have to notify the government, which would of course have an Android phone technician on payroll able to approve whether my shipment was for repair or disposal.   Gee, my EVO may be under warranty.  In which case, it would get sent back to China for repair, in which case I have violated both E-Stewards Tested Working Rule and R2's Must Be Legal Rule.  I hear the handcuffs jingle.

If you are under the age of 35, you have to recognize that environmentalism can be hijacked. Planned obsolescence is leveraging both racism and globalization fears.  There are a lot of eco-grey beards who mistake geeks of color for Unicef kids.   The white dudes who nod approvingly when "OECD" is used as a term of technical prowess...

Thank goodness, white fingers
Basel Action Network means well, but they are in full court press to not only define export for repair as a "non-certified" practice.  They actually hope to change the Basel Convention Annex IX language, which specifically allows repair and refurbishment, and by definition excludes these from "waste" definitions (if you make it work, it isn't "e-waste").  BAN is feverishly working to get the Basel parties to adopt a "Tested Working" and "Fully Functional" program...  Jim Puckett left a comment on here 15 months ago, implying that "soon" Europe would accept the terms "tested working", and that Australia already had.  ???  Almost in Europe = illegal now ???  

Man, his credentials are good, but Jim wouldn't know an HTC Evo from a snow cone.

Forever stopping heathens like me from trading in their HTC EVO cracked screen cell phones for $100 to barbarian geeks in Asia... that is the call of Stewardship?  The HTC EVO is MADE in China.   So "Manufacturer Takeback" is going to have to sit down with "fully functional" friends and figure this out... how do I take something back without violating Stewardship Rules?

Another case of my friend enviros, people I like and want to hang around with, being so distrustful of business, trade and globalization, that they are willing to take chances with mining and refining and shredding waste and carbon, and telling my techie friends in Hong Kong that they are on their side, saving them from the non-toxic IFIXIT repair.  Well intentioned, friendly fire, mining wins.

No bad people in this story.  But despite Enviro watchdogs noblest intentions...

1)  They don't know what they are talking about.

2)  They are making it up as they go along.

Will a tsunami of HTC LCD screens will become the 11.567,896th leading source of toxic electronic waste by the end of this year?   Do we need special R2 rules on each device, which cell phones we need to shred these in the USA, and only allow China to mine and refine and manufacture brand new ones?

Which means I have to buy a really small screwdriver, cause I can't afford to buy a new phone unless I get the $100 bucks for this one.  Run the slide show...

BAN would suggest I remove the screen before shipping it.  That would mean that the buyer cannot confirm the phone works before going to a lot of effort to put in a new screen, or that I'd need to test it further to make sure something else wasn't damaged.  And if I got as far as removing the broken screen, then I may as well buy the new screen and replace it myself.

All of which creates a full time job in Vermont.  Except I already have one, which I'm late to.

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