Payola Scandal Behind E-Waste Standards?

Meat head expertise
Electronics recycling or "e-waste" companies which have little or no experience in export for reuse - companies without testing of CRTs and with "no intact unit" policies - have provided testimony on what proper testing requirements are for legal refurbishing factories.

Letting a company which shreds equipment write the rules for testing equipment is a bit like putting a butcher shop in charge of a vegetarian menu (or a beauty shop).

Further, there is evidence that these shredding companies have contributed large financial sums to the non-profit organizations which write the "E-Steward" rules, and have contributed to the political campaigns of executive branch officials... who in turn have appointed new "e-waste" enforcement regulators.  To date there is no such leverage by "planned obsolescence" upon R2 Responsible Recycler standards (holding breath).

If the legal, careful, fair trade companies are barred by law from selling working and refurbishable cores to legal companies overseas, it is an unintended and perverse consequence, at best. 

I believe that MOST of the people involved in legislation of e-waste export restrictions have good intentions.  Many good people (like Terry Gross of NPR Fresh Air, and Solly Granatstein of CBS) have been led to false conclusions by a photographic poster-child campaign.   But there are also commercial, for-profit interests.  Companies which promote "planned obsolescence in hindsight", who oppose white box manufacturing, and who oppose refilled ink cartridges and refurbished cameras, may be influencing the environmental movement to crack down on GOOD exporters, making fair trade efforts (like my company's) appear toxic, immoral, or illegal.

It is perfectly legal for AGMA to oppose grey markets.  It's legal for Dell to donate money to get Goodwill Industries to stop testing and reusing computers in their thrift shops.  It's legal for HP to procure recycling services for their products from companies with "no intact unit" policies.  It's legal to file a "friends of the court" brief in an unsuccessful campaigns to overturn the "exhaustion doctrine".   It's even legal for companies to set up shredding programs in Shenzhen and South Africa to compete with the reuse market.  And it's certainly legal to lease, or buy back, your own product.

That is what the contract manufacturers we export to are doing - buying back products they made (for other people's labels).  They were
good enough to MAKE the monitor that other companies put their names on.  Should it be illegal for them to take back the products they made?  Environmentalists need to make sure stuff is properly recycled, period.  Banning one recycler from competing for the material based on their ethnicity is immoral and will have bad outcomes.

Competition is good.  Holding companies like mine to a higher standard is good.  But using the law to keep justice at bay stops working if dollars change hands with public officials.  The outcome of the "war on exports" has been to create a sellers market, to create shortages, to destroy good equipment which is replaced with bad equipment.  It is more toxics from more mining, and more toxics along for the ride when buyers are given fewer choices of sellers.  I may be in the minority in promoting the good news about "e-waste" electronics exports (so called).  But if someone tries to write a law in the state of Vermont which purports to increase product quality, but is in fact designed to increase shredding, they are picking on the wrong guy.

"Butcher" is to "Veterinarian" as "Shredding" is to "reuse"
We'll see who shows up to testify in favor of new testing standards for "fully functional" equipment.  And we will ask them what their experience is working with Techs of Color.  If you don't know what you are talking about, and are making it up as you go along, you better not call yourself an expert.  For the companies I've purchased repairable equipment, I don't kiss and tell, and they are safe.  Even if they are promoting a standard to put me out of business, I will not disclose that they shipped through us, because we are sincere in offering confidential agreements.  But if they make payola, we may get subpoenas.

And for that other company which badmouths the exporter, who had a containerload being unloaded, which I photographed in the Singapore area, you are just a hypocrite, and your stuff didn't go through me... just to the same buyer.  They liked your stuff, it was graded pretty well.  Same as mine.  With no boards removed, no separated and pulse tested Sencore graded fully functional cathode ray tubes.  You can testify as an expert, if you wish.  I've got photos and questions for the congressperson to ask you under oath.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We approached the non-profit about e-stewards certification. The whole conversation was about how their listing of us as a good company would make us money, and what share of that money went to them. They'll turn the solid waste hierarchy upside down for a buck. Good luck.