Coexisting E-Waste Certifications

I look through past blog posts, including ones prior to "We Shouldn't Have to Make That Choice".  That  post marked a kind of turning point between me and the Seattle organization, Basel Action Network (BAN). I thought it was diplomatic enough...

I prefer peace.  By far, my favorite images of the Revolution 2.0 revolt in Egypt's Tahir Square is the unity the Geeks and Techs of Color show with Coptic Christians (the Zabaleen, most outstanding scrap recyclers in the world).   All the geeks/techs I work with in Egypt are Islamic, but they are all pro-business-pro-peace and very supportive of the Christian minority (about 10% of Cairo population).  A partnership between Muslim geeks and Christian scrappers seems awesome.

The Facebook pages of Cairo repair technicians (who don't speak English, unfortunately) show their families, as my Facebook pages do.  Some are proud photos of pilgrimages to Mecca.   Pictures of babies, nieces and nephews.  They proudly show wives and sisters, sometimes in full bourqa.  Then, the family posing with brother and sister in law, with the sister in law uncovered and in western dress.   Then, political cartoons and logos showing the Muslim crescent with the Coptic Christian cross, together in unity.   I love the shots of the Christians joining hands in a circle at Tahir Square, to protect the praying muslim protesters.  And I love the facebook "likes" of the wall of muslims standing to protect the Christian churches during the riots.

So, isn't peace and harmony a better sales tactic than diatribe?  What if your efforts to negotiate peace result in the other party using information you provided to attack innocent friends?

Tip-toeing around Stewards:

Like most other people in the industry, I'd tip-toed around Basel Action Network for most of the past decade, trying to help them, work with them, and remind one another on where we agreed.  Sarah at BAN confronted me at one of the early R2 discussions and said that I should stop emphasizing points of agreement.  The reason?  Because I was telling people that repair and refurbishment factories are explicitly legal under the Basel Convention Annex IX.  BAN knew this to be true, it was a battle BAN lost in Switzerland, and BAN was pushing an amendment to the Basel Convention.  BAN was basically telling people in the USA that the Basel Amendment was already law.

Pushing an amendment change a treaty is prima facia evidence that you think export for repair and refurbishment is currently legal as the treaty now stands.  BAN knows perfectly well that the Basel Convention doesn't say "tested working" or "fully functional".

Still, it was important to bring BAN into the R2 discussions, to have them at the table. One concession to BAN that the group made was to call items which are classified "non-waste" or legal to recycle "materials of concern" or "focus material".  No one would agree to say something was "illegal" if it was clearly legal, but BAN was adamant that it should be declared "hazardous".  Now we see "focus material" being used synonymously with "hazardous waste", even though some focus materials are not hazardous at all (circuit boards which are non-toxic but could be processed in Aqua regia, hard drives with information to be wiped).  Vocabulary developed to promote understanding is abused and confiscated in BAN's holy war.

The Basel Action Network uses language to create impressions which will further their promotion of an amendment to the Basel Convention.   "The Reuse Excuse" is intended to poison the well of organizations promoting affordable internet.  "Digital Dump" was chosen to echo "digital divide":  BAN has for decades lost the argument with other environmentalists, then changed the venue to argue their point again, this time trying to poison the vocabulary to avoid the same outcome.

Every time there is a prolonged study of BAN's anti-reuse language, people realize there are strong environmental arguments to allow repair and reuse.  BAN has lost their argument not just at Basel, but at EPA, Responsible Recycling (R2), ISRI, and the European Parliment.  BAN was unsuccessful in getting their anti-reuse rule adapted whenever people take the time to see past the poster child images and see the factories which they would BAN.

Next:   Co-opting terminology 2.0

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