Kicking and Screaming E-Steward

Hey, my company is going to be an E-Steward Recycler.  No more export, no more reuse.  Here's how it happened.
  1. We developed a fair trade network, getting working computers from Vermont to places like Egypt
  2. Egyptian customs seized working used computers as "e-waste".  BAN is cited as the reason.  BAN is silent.
  3. We ship the computers to a manufacture-takeback, refurbishing program in Asia, and have the PCs made into "new in box" with Arabic lettering to provide to Egypt buyers, by-passing "e-waste" seizure.
  4. BAN objects to the refurbishing process, saying that elective upgrade and replacement (new parts) means that old parts were disposed (if you don't upgrade the parts, it's not refurbished, if you do, then they object to the elective upgrade of the part).
  5. We get R2 inspection, ISO14001, proving that no electively replaced parts were dumped, all are properly recycled.
  6. BAN states it is still illegal to properly recycle an electively replaced part.  Says USA must remove any part which might be replaced at a contract manufacturing / refurbishing plant.
  7. I suggest that BAN and WR3A cooperate in California, the only place where they have such a subsidized crazy system (paying people to break working equipment) that they could actually afford to remove parts that might electively be replaced.
  8. BAN says they (a) don't have time to pursue the California Compromise, and (b) object to my blogging (see 1-6).  BAN is saying they agree with 7, but won't promote it, because prior to thinking of and suggesting 7, that I criticized them for 1-6
  9. BAN and VPIRG then get ANR to pass a law requiring Vermont to stop selling to the refurbishing, falsely stating #4.  They also provide quotes to the Boston Globe saying that the hundreds of technicians (filmed and inspected and ISO) are "primitive".
  10. Good Point Recycling begins destroying working equipment on June 30.  We will film the activity.
BAN and VPIRG did not defend the Geeks of Color when their tested working product was seized by the dictatorship.  They stay silent, knowing the Basel Convention does not ban all used equipment, does not call for "3 years from date of manufacture".

Before being re-boxed as "refurbished", parts are upgraded
Next, they attack our work-around (having the PCs refurbished to new-in-box condition).  BAN and VPIRG falsely accuse sustainable, environmentally sound, safe, non-polluting factories of being "polluting", and post horribly racist 11 year old pictures of a dump in China to describe the same technicians who made the monitor BAN purchased at retail.


Vermont ANR will now pay recyclers taxpayer money to break working equipment, a la California.  Taxpayers will pay for the work of dictators and "planned obsolescence" industries, to pay for destruction of internet equipment.

Robin writes about it.   The truth is out there.

Dear Ayatollah of E-Waste,

We filmed the true stories of Geeks of Color in Egypt, Indonesia, and China.  We showed that you have mis-characterized them, and you are paid to do so by USA shredding equipment interests.  You are willing to take internet away from young Africans, jobs away from factories which changed from virgin mining to 100% sustainable reuse.

You write that refurbishing is not reuse, though it is explicitly referred to as a "commodity, not a waste" in the Basel Convention text.   You suggest a testing standard which your E-Steward shredders do not bother to follow.

You claim to support the export of tested working equipment, but require rules (like "clean the fan" and "80% of brand new charge") which no one bothers to follow.  When working equipment is seized under the dictatorships, who wish to put the internet genie back in the bottle, you have never spoken out about mis-use of the Basel Convention.  You applaud countries like Egypt and Kenya and Pakistan which cite Basel as saying no used equipment, when Basel Convention clearly indicates in Annex IX B1110 that working, repair and refurbishment are exempt.

You create a paradox for refurbishers, who can buy you tested working units, but cannot then electively upgrade them or replace parts, dooming the end-user to use equipment with a shorter life.  You call the contract manufacturers, the Geek in Asia, a "polluter" if he has the skill and knowledge to upgrade the tested working computers you said were ok to ship... yet you bought a computer he assembled.

You wrote a letter to stop the CRT glass furnace from using recycled cullet, leaving them to mine Indonesian islands for virgin lead, tin and barium.  You confess that the worst recycling is better than the best such mining, for the environment, but state that is "not your mission".

You had a chance to work with me in California, but in mid-conversation you sent Yuka to contact the EPA of the country of the factory that met you by skype, to take away their permit (they drop all purchased from the USA, buy from other nations now).  You lied to people about the differences between the Basel Convention and the Basel Ban Amendment.  You lied and said that the Convention says "tested working" and lied and said the convention considers electively upgraded parts (replacing 512 RAM with 1Gig RAM) to be pollution.


And you won't speak to me because I'm mad.  But I have folders and folders of all of these points, made politely in conversations going back 10 years.  Only when you called my friends "primitives" did you cross the line of my anger.   You are a bully and a fake, posing as an environmentalist, clubbing sustainable international development to death like a baby seal.

Ok, so much for the 2009-2011 recap.  What's the new question today?

Here is today's question.  If I am mandated, thanks to VPIRG, to destroy the working equipment, meeting E-Steward Standards, and forgo the trade with Geeks of Color, because Vermont Law requires we abandon our fair trade principles, then we are eligible as E-Stewards, right?  We don't like it, we think you were once "accidental racists", but have lost the chance to use the Pythonesque "Dennis Moore" excuse.   We think you are willing to destroy environmentally sustainable jobs in poor nations because your salaries now depend on it.  But is not liking it banned under E-Stewardship?  Can't we now be declared an e-Steward because you have won, and we are right now tooling for 100% demanufacturing?

It's just a matter of paying you a check to witness the destruction of the working equipment, right?  How much is the check?  To whom do I make it?  Does VPIRG get a cut?  Can I write you a check with the word "asshole" in the note field?

You have successfully taken a former Peace Corps volunteer, who got national attention for fair trade recycling, out of the business.   Time for your victory lap.  I am filming the destruction of 1000 Pentium 4s, and am inviting VPIRG to pose by the scrap, like calvary fighters over the burned villages of internet cafes in Africa.

Here's the deal.  We are an involuntary E-Steward.  We will document all the harm and damage from following your standard, we will document racist policy, we will show how much of the circuit boards just go out in the shred.  When you object to our de minimus, we will pass the costs on to the Vermont taxpayer, and demand the same standard be applied by every other E-Steward.  Welcome to Afghanistan.

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