2005: Liftoff of Fair Trade Recycling

Here is a link to the first article about "fair trade recycling", originally appearing in Recycling Today and also picked up by Entrepreneur magazine   It would mark the kickoff of WR3A, the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association, incorporated in Vermont, to create partnerships for proper reuse and recycling between developed and emerging nations.

WR3A was very well received by overseas buyers, who wanted to cooperate with USA sellers to increase quality and bring legitimacy to their large scale refurbishing businesses.

WR3A was initially received well by USA electronics recyclers, with 14 of the largest and best run organizations originally coming on board.  But we needed a signal from BAN.org, and it was NOT forthcoming.   BAN resisted WR3A and the concept of Fair Trade Recycling from the start.

At the time, in 2005, the shredding industry was heading into the e-waste market at full steam.  California had instituted the "cancellation" policy in SB20.  And BAN was fully invested in a "poster child" campaign, and the images of well lit factories, properly taking back and refurbishing the computer monitors they once made, was a threat to BAN's fund raising model.

In the end, the biggest problem has been that we provide transparency, and then are attacked with it.  Perhaps the biggest such example was WR3A's original agreement with Samsung Corning in Malaysia to wash CRT glass of any tubes which are collected back, either in "clunkers" collections (taken back in Malaysia when new computers are sold), or from incidental breakage (which Malaysia considered generated in Malaysia if provided evidence that the load was properly screened before export).  In a now infamous letter, Basel Action Network wrote to the Malaysia government protesting that Samsung was "recycling" old CRT glass into new CRT tubes.  Manufacturer takeback was attacked, just as warranty repair has been attacked, and in the process sustainability was attacked.  BAN originally denied writing this letter to E-Scrap (when E-Scrap News ran a related blog of mine as an op-ed), but we had the original letter.  BAN tried to suppress the letter, but it's government correspondence.  It's clear evidence that manufacturer takeback and product stewardship, warranty repair, and recycling are all also under attack by "accidental racism".

"The perfect is the enemy of the good."

Samsung reacted by buying the CRT glass from Japan and Korea. This is why we view with great apprehension Vermont's suggested requirement that we post all our processes online for 30 days for them to collect criticism and comment.   Much easier to move that work out of state.   The issue is whether we can still collect the units in Vermont and ship them out of state for that process, or whether we much cut Middlebury out of the loop altogether.

Six years later, one in 50 USA troops in Afghanistan is a robot.

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