Singapore and Texas: Refurbishing Giants

Singapore engineer
A few months ago I posted a tribute to Singapore's NEA (National Environmental Agency) and its positions on "repair and overhaul" industries... It ended with  Rolls Royce and a multi-million dollar facility to repair junk aircraft.

Well, now Boeing is copying Rolls Royce, and Texas is knocking off Singapore.  Boeing has just announced a new plant in San Antonio, which will employ 450 people, to do what Singapore is doing... repair and refurbish retired jetliners.

How did Singapore "leapfrog" its poverty?  In the 1990s, when I was recycling director at Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, I was looking everywhere for evidence of my hunch that refurbishing would reduce our electronics recycling costs, and I found some articles from Singapore's NEA.  They said, quite crisply:
  • Singapore doesn't have a lot of raw materials for virgin production
  • Jobs which utilize intellect and engineering skills create more wealth than mining jobs
  • Repair and overhaul (refurbishing) is environmentally sustainable

Tatooine engineer
Therefore, Singapore would embrace R and O (Repair and Overhaul).  They created strict rules for copyright infringement, and brought in a number of SKD and computer refurbishing industries, which later moved as Singapore outgrew them.

During the past decade, Singapore scaled up its computer refurbishing industry, and made a major coup with Rolls Royce Industries, SIA and Honeywell opening sustainable refurbishing factories, for major industrial equipment.  The airplanes which were being junked would be brought in and retooled, nose to tail, in a massive, high-tech upgrade and overhaul operation which would create a mini-me jet airplane (re)manufacturing factory in the small city-state of Singapore.  Young Anakin Skywalkers moved into the city to hone their skills.

Of course, aircraft do have leaded solder circuit boards, and I seriously doubt those were removed prior to sending the jets on their last trek to Changi Airport.  Whether or not they were "fully functional", the point of the Singapore reuse operation is to tear out the old parts and upgrade the aircraft with more modern parts... which is what BAN objects to with contract monitor refurbishing factories, which remove (tested working or fully functional) circuit boards and upgrade them.  WR3A offered incentives to properly recycle those circuit boards, and BAN objects strongly... the factory can take them back later, but cannot electively replace them to make the computers last longer.   So I assume the Singapore model is considered "criminal" and "polluting" in Seattle.

Today, the Wall Street Journal announced that Texas, too, would become a jet refurbisher.

By the way, Texas is OECD, and Singapore isn't.

By the way (Interpol), Singapore has stronger environmental enforcement and standards than Texas.

By the way, Singapore was considered "primitive" a few decades ago, and now boasts more engineers per capital than Silicon Valley.   Repair and refurbishment is the path to success, it's a path we must not deny Ethiopia, Egypt, Ghana, Angola or Singapore.   BAN's war on geeks who respond to WR3A incentives to properly recycle the electively upgraded parts - and their crass accusations that the techies in Egypt, Senegal, Peru, etc. are harming the environment - has only one winner.  E-Stewards pay BAN to say that shredding is better than properly recycling an upgraded part.   BAN's pocketbooks bulge, not a penny goes to the developing world.   Interpol, StEP, EPA and NRDC need to get off that plane before it crashes in the ocean.

R&O is a good thing.  Basel Convention does not say it is illegal, and it is shocking to hear the "tested working" and "fully functional" insidiously replacing "refurbishment" in the environmental community.  I repeat myself, because I get no response.

No comments: