Planned Obsolescence in Hindsight: Green-Thompson E-Waste Bill

Press release today.   The Gene Green (TX) anti-reuse, anti-export bill is back in Committee.

"(Washington, DC,  June 23, 2011)  U.S. Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) yesterday introduced new legislation – the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act - to stop sham U.S. “recyclers” from dumping electronic waste on developing countries and to promote recycling jobs at home. The bill is supported by environmental groups as well as electronic manufacturers (Dell, HP, Samsung, Apple, and Best Buy), all of which already have policies that prohibit the export of e-waste to developing nations. The bill also has bipartisan support, including sponsors Reps. Steven LaTourette (R-OH) and Lee Terry (R-NE)."

As pointed out in previous posts, to earlier versions of the bill:

1)  The OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturers] reserve the right to export to the Contract Re-manufacturers (Proview, BenQ, Wistron, Foxconn, etc.) who buy and refurbish PCs.   The bill bans anyone else BUT them from doing so.  The contract refurbishers are independent factories, not owned by HP, Dell, Samsung,  or other corporate supporters.  Today I can sell to them directly.  Under the legislation, I can only send through the OEMs!  No change in anything except control of used product.  Imagine if you could only re-sell your Ford via a Ford dealership, according to USA law.

2)  They say this creates jobs in the USA.  That's a cynical lie.   The OEMs do not repair the devices before sending them for repair.  The other supporters are companies who shred 100% of the used electronics.  My company has proven that we create more jobs with a two-stream process, testing items for refurbishment, and dismantling those which don't qualify.  Every study shows that jobs are created by VALUE, and destroying value - through shredding or through restraint of trade - destroys jobs.

3)  The press release calls Geeks of Color "Guiyu".   The repeated, tired, racist depictions of repair and refurbishers overseas makes one wonder why two standards?  If Asia really is that way, then why do we allow Dell, Apple, and HP to contract out their manufacturing there?  If it isn't that way, why do we allow only big corporations to control that trade?   If this had been passed five years ago, would we have had the Arab Spring revolution 2.0?  People who can only afford a $50 PC are using our CRT display devices, and using them to change the world for the better.

Fair Trade Recycling is partnering with "white box" re-manufacturing companies, to create a good enough market for Egyptians to hold meetings by Facebook and Twitter.  The Green-Thompson bill is cynical and wrong.  No one in the USA is repairing CRT monitors as well as the factories which originally made the CRT monitors, under contract to Dell, HP, etc.  The people buying them cannot afford brand new flat screens.

This bill is not about bringing recycling jobs back to the USA.  It is about taking working equipment and breaking it prior to exporting it so that it does not compete with the sale of brand new "stuff".

See the real story behind CBS 60 Minutes "Wasteland"

See the real story behind the ban on exports of E-waste.

If used computer exports are outlawed, only outlaws will export used computers.  Give the Geeks in emerging nations more choices than Planned Obsolescence Manufacturers and Back-Alley Sham Recyclers.  Prohibition will only take out Fair Trade Recycling, it won't affect cheaters and doesn't affect the big corporations.  Research the recycling jobs before you claim to improve them.  We can sooner bring coffee growing jobs back to the USA than reuse, repair and recycling.

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