“When the public thinks of recycling, they do not envisage their old computers and TVs being smashed and burned in China, India or Nigeria,” said BAN’s Executive Director Jim Puckett. “And yet despite the CEA statement that ‘the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations’ should not be allowed, they continue to offer no concrete commitment to abide by the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment, which make such exports illegal, period.” - Jim Puckett, BAN.orgBasel Action Network goes on to insinuate, in this press release, that any recycler meeting any other standard or certification - any kind, ISO, R2, RIOS, WR3A, ANY OTHER CERTIFICATION, (than theirs) is the equivalent of "smashed and burned in China". The key difference between the esteemed certifications mentioned above, and their certification? PAYMENT OF A PERCENTAGE of company gross profits to BAN.
Sigh. Attacking good people again.
What if my company is fully compliant with all of BAN's standards (as they would have us be, under Vermont law)? Would our compliance, under penalty of law, ease BAN's concerns over our environmental practices? Not according to this press release (full text below). You cannot be a good company, you cannot improve the world in any way, unless you contribute to the NGO's salary, buy him a new car? SHAME.
People must tire of reading my frustrations. I'm taking great personal risk here. But no one should be in the business of denigrating other people's best efforts. ISO does not denigrate RIOS, RIOS does not denigrate WR3A, WR3A does not denigrate R2. There is only one standard bearer calling the others "smash and burn". And the main difference in their standard amounts to PAYOLA. BAN is selling a product. To even see the standards of the "e-Stewards", you must write a check to BAN. I don't know of anyone one else who requires payment to see the rules they advocate!
Certainly the Basel Convention doesn't... I know what it says, because it's available online. Many other standards comply with the Basel Convention. The Basel Action Network press release rolls itself in the Basel Convention like a flag, but then says the only standard that matters is one which pays royalties to their small Seattle NGO.
"BAN calls on CEA members to leap beyond the collective announcement and individually take leadership to embrace the e-Stewards Certification program."That's not a call to meet a standard. That's a threat.
Can recyclers do better? Constantly. Do circumstances change, and should our standards develop? Yes. I would argue that the main change in circumstance is that emerging economies are less and less "primitive". But my own standards also must listen and change. We change what we think is acceptable to export every year, several times per year, as supply and demand changes. If all we cared about was money, would we change what we export?
CEA has taken a legitimate step to increase "e-waste" recycling. That's progress. BAN is not changing any message about anyone. It's a constant drumbeat, a constant barking. "Sham, sham, sham!"
Lighten up, Perfect, and stop attacking Mr. Good. Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network thinks it's still 2001 in China. His business is based on a premise that other people are doing things wrong. If CEA, or R2, or Geeks of Color, are seen as doing something good, it's a threat to his organization's entire business model. I'm sick of it.
We have differences of opinion about the best way to achieve the balance between internet access and dumping. But we do not need to accuse CEA, or refurbishing markets, or one another, of setting fire to P4 computers.
We agree on some things. In our business, we do need to distinguish between the business practices of different recycling companies. But the constant advertising that this standard is "bad" and that certification is "dumping", it's immature, and the marketplace will eventually give up on trying to listen.
Look, in case I'm misreading this, the full BAN press release is provided below. Please let me know if this isn't just another attack on good people making an effort. It seems that is all I ever hear any more, a blind watchdog, barking at everyone.
The irony is that some of these CEA companies need little excuse to ban export of their product for reuse. The "no intact unit" standard, or "planned obsolescence in hindsight", existed before BAN's mis-characterization of the Basel Convention. BAN is providing a false "environmental" excuses for Stuff makers to undermine reuse and the secondary market. It puts me in a bit of a predicament, not to attack CEA while defending it, not to attack BAN while defending importers from sham loads. Gondor and Rohan and Rivendale must unite.
Basel Convention is Good, Basel Ban Amendment, NOT.
Finally, take note of the phrase "Basel Ban Amendment". The amendment is by no means accepted by the environmental community. It was proposed (after the Convention) that by 1997, recycling itself must also be forbidden in emerging nations. Since the metal, glass, plastic, paper and other material refining growth has followed mining into those nations, it is a horrible curse - to ban those industries from recycling.
"They also agreed to ban, by 31 December 1997, the export of wastes intended for recovery and recycling (Decision II/12)."This would condemn the lead acid car battery manufacturers, like those in China and Thailand, to forever use mining to make batteries for our cars, because the used batteries would be defined as a "waste", no matter how clean and how fair the recycling process. The battery makers could never produce a product from recycled product, by definition. No one in the USA, or many developed nation, or developing countries themselves, has reached consensus that goods made overseas cannot legally be made from recycled content. It's a horrible, horrible, anti-environmentalist crusade. And that this 'ban amendment' language has been slipped quietly into the "E-Steward" language should cause all prospective "E-Stewards" to ask themselves, at what environmental cost am I willing to accept this environmental accolade? It is not just the payola in dollars... it's signing up for a new amendment to the Basel Convention which will make it illegal to recycle.
CEA’s New Initiative Will Likely Cause more e-Waste
to Flood Developing Countries
“If you really care, only use e-Stewards Recyclers
who will not export to developing countries”
(Seattle, April 13, 2011) -- In response to the Consumer Electronics Association’s latest announcement that they aim to triple the amount of e-waste being recycled, the Basel Action Network (BAN) raises concerns that the initiative is misleading.
“When the public thinks of recycling, they do not envisage their old computers and TVs being smashed and burned in China, India or Nigeria,” said BAN’s Executive Director Jim Puckett. “And yet despite the CEA statement that ‘the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations’ should not be allowed, they continue to offer no concrete commitment to abide by the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment, which make such exports illegal, period.”
Currently, there is only one recycler audit – e-Stewards® Certification – that requires adherence to international law and bans the export of toxic e-waste to developing countries, including exports of broken equipment for reuse. While CEA supports certifying recyclers generally, they fail to mention that the R2 certification currently supported by many of their members falls short of addressing the problem and does not prohibit the export of e-waste in accordance with international rules. R2 also allows the dumping of mercury in landfills as well as the use of domestic prison labor for handling toxics, a practice long denounced by civic society groups and social justice advocates.
The new CEA initiative lists thousands of collection sites which do not appear to have necessary controls in place to ensure only responsible domestic recycling will take place. The net result of collecting more from the public without proper controls is a likely increase in exports of US toxic e-waste to developing countries.
“Dirty recycling is worse for the environment and public health than landfilling the material in the US.” said Puckett. “It’s easy to say you want to recycle a billion pounds. But unless you can guarantee that you will recycle that billion pounds here in the USA, in a clean, green and fully transparent manner, and not allow that toxic waste to plague the rest of the world, you are doing more harm than good. The CEA announcement is very concrete on recycling quantity, but is smoke and mirrors on recycling quality.”
With the laudable exception of Samsung and Nvidia (the only two electronics manufacturers that have committed to fully responsible and accountable recycling practices by becoming e-Stewards Enterprises) BAN notes that most manufacturers continue to
- Refuse to tell the public where their collected, off-spec and internal e-waste goes to be recycled;
- Fight to retain the right to export non-functioning e-waste resulting in hazardous waste accumulations in developing countries;
- Refuse to accept the Basel Ban Amendment agreed by a consensus of countries and now practiced by 33 of the 41 developed countries.