[Middlebury, Vermont 12/2/2010] The Pledge of True Environmental Stewardship, conceived in Seattle Washington in 2002, was laid to rest today. The Pledge was designed to create a list of good, green companies which "promised" to do the right thing with "e-waste". After fighting a fierce battle with skeptics and true believers, too many good companies refused to sign, and too many eager companies signed (good or not). The Pledge wasted away.
In 2002, the Pledge was released by Basel Action Network and Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition as a vehicle to shame electronics recyclers into abandoning bad exports. It is recognized as the primary force stopping all kinds of exports from some companies, bad or not. Other companies did whatever they wanted after signing the Pledge, and it eventually became meaningless. Death was pronounced when the largest Pledge company admitted to being the largest exporter... to the same export avenue BAN accused in 2010.
Certification services are being offered to the survivors. The (estranged) family members are R2, E-Stewards, and people you trust to do the right thing with your used electronics. Enforceable civil contracts have accepted all outstanding liabilities.
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The Pledge Company did not necessarily do anything wrong. Yes, they were using the exact same export broker as BAN, ETB, NRDC etc. targeted last February. I am on record as looking at this exporter with an open mind. WR3A audited the factory following the February accusations, and found the description of the factory to be downright libelous.
A lot of noise to preserve a naked Emporer?
Do the Watchdogs know what they are talking about?
Or are they making this up as they go along?
After 7 years of telling Americans that the Pledge of True Stewardship was the gold standard for e-waste, now we are told that it was just a half measure, and that Certification is around the corner.
I am very disappointed to see Americans scramble to defend the assumption that overseas recyclers are primitive in all cases. I am a strong critic of Toxics Along for the Ride, I allow only 22% exports from our company, and I am a staunch ally of export reform. But the wild accusations made against all Techs of Color based on photographic examples of substandard practices has NEVER WORKED. This goes back to "scraps to Japs", Americans bemoaning sales of scrap metal to Japan after WWII. This excuse of the month to avoid Globalization will fail.
It will fail.
It will fail.
It will fail.
From E-Scrap News, the best news source in electronics recycling:
Sacramento Bee exposes California exporters
The Sacramento Bee has published a report that highlights the problem of e-waste exports in California – including exports by some signers of the Basel Action Network's Pledge of True Stewardship. The article places the volume of electronic scrap exported from California at between 160- and 210-million pounds per year and calls out firms it says publicly promote themselves as responsible processors, while at the same time exporting scrap electronics, or selling material to brokers who ship it overseas.
Fresno-based Electronics Recyclers International was held up in the story as an example of duplicitous processing. The company is a signee of the BAN Pledge and is pursuing e-Stewards Certification, but was accused in the article of selling "large volumes of e-waste" for export to Hong Kong as recently as 2008. In an update to the story, The Bee has posted several bills of lading and other documents from ERI.
"BAN confronted ERI at once," explained BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett in a public response to the article. "They explained that they did not fully understand the definitions for hazardous e-waste … [and] convinced us that these exports ceased in 2008 and that their business model today is entirely different. BAN sent a team to their facility to witness their current operation and make further inquiries regarding these operations, their ongoing transparency, their downstream vendors and their commitment to be audited and certified to our standard."
Both The Sacramento Bee article and BAN's response highlight the challenge of verifying that signers of the Pledge are remaining true to their word. Ultimately, these types of problems led to the development of the e-Stewards Certification standard, which enables the auditing and inspection of processors. The Pledge of True Stewardship is scheduled to be discontinued in August of 2011 and BAN says it has stopped registering companies as Pledge signers.