E-Waste Company, Standard, Process: What is "Certified"?

Here's a little philosophical question I raised as a stakeholder during the development of R2 (Responsible Recycler) certification standard development...

What if one client wants Ewaste recycled by R2 rules, and another one doesn't?  Can a restaurant serve both kosher and non-kosher foods?  Can a businessman own both a kosher and non-kosher restaurant?

Option 1:  One Company, One Standard, One Process.   You decide you will ONLY offer R2 certified services.   Everyone gets the same price, whether they think it's worth it or not.  This is a good strategy in a big urban market, especially if you are specialized in one product, such as laptops (fewer processes to certify in the first place).  We predicted that the first companies to get either E-Steward or R2 Certification would be from the "no hair on the meat" end of the business - no TVs, no residential, nothing costly.  See last year's post (still regularly visited), "Certify Specialization?  Or Support Recyclers who Work Hard?"
"We sell only kosher foods."

Option 2:  One Company, Two Standards, One Process.  You have clients, such as public schools, who absolutely INSIST they don't have sensitive data to wipe on their hard drives, they insist on something affordable.  Maybe they shouldn't have to pay for data destruction.  If you discount the load to avoid hard drive wiping, and some of the computers from the school do nevertheless have hard drives, you may elect to just destroy the hard drives anyway (one process) because you don't want hard drives going back out of your building unwiped... you just eat the cost of that standard for the school, don't charge them, and wipe the drives anyway.  But do you still issue a Certificate of Destruction?
"We offer two menus, kosher and non-kosher.  But it's all kosher."
Option 2 is common for companies in rural areas - such as Vermont - where you need to service everyone to have an economy of scale, but not everyone agrees on the standards they want to pay for... But the state, by law, requires that only R2 Processes can legally take place in the state of Vermont... the only state which makes R2 or E-Steward certification mandatory, even for commercial and out of state material entering the state.  By shredding everything, a client can more easily obtain both R2 and E-Steward certification, since they don't follow the reuse guidelines which differ between the standards.

Option 3:  One Company, Two Standards, Two Processes.  What if you have two civil contracts which are accepted by two separate clients?  One signs a contract committing you to E-Stewards processes or R2 Processes.  The other does not.   You could track the pallets through your plant and perform your duties on batches of electronics, which are "R2 Compliant" or "E-Stewards Compliant".  This is very controversial within the E-Waste "Certified" group of Companies.   Some organizations, like NAID, allow members to display their membership logo even if they are not certified... Other organizations (like E-Stewards) seem to represent that as a different brand (but they still have a Steward "Founders" group, and a "Pledge Signers" Group).  My company does offer to sign civil contracts binding us to perform E-Stewards services (which we shred, or send to a certified E-Steward such as ERI)... in effect outsourcing that Process.
"Our restaurant has two cooks and two kitchens - one for kosher, one not"
Option 4:  Two Companies, Two Standards, Two Processes.  I own two businesses now, independently incoporporated, with separate EIN numbers.  Under USA law, each corporation is considered a completely separate entity.  Could I perform one standard with one company, get it certified, and perform a completely different standard at a second company?  The answer, like it or not, is OF COURSE I CAN.   Now, if something is delivered to Company A, and I agree to do "A" standard work, but I ship the material through the door to be done at Company B, then I should lose certification.  But if I offer two different products or services under different contracts and different companies, I could be an E-Steward at one address and offer "All E-Waste Exports, All the Time" at my other company.
"I own two restaurants.  One is kosher.  The other is Pork Palace"
Could any of this explain the BAN vs. Intercon controversy?  This week, according to AMM, Hong Kong authorities actually announced that the Chicago containers really did contain CRTs.  Time for fresh CRT audit records, and suspended deliveries...?

Does any of this explain the "Intercon Solutions vs. BAN E-Stewards" controversy in Chicago?  Possibly.  The "crime" is NOT that someone saw a container go to China.  Doing business with Chinese people is no more illegal than interracial marriage, and the fervor by which some denounce Chinese recycling is xenophobic at best.   Having more than one company, using more than one process, is not illegal either.  But this is the next step in the discussion (prior to this, no one has actually said the containers had CRTs - there was a quote about waste "such as CRTs", but China defines tested working P4 laptops as hazardous waste, so it meant next to nothing).

Even if the Chicago containers had CRTs, one could still arguably use Intercon as a recycling solution for CRTs.  They may be a small fraction of tested working monitors (banned in China, despite WTO protections for working used goods and E-Stewards acceptance of "tested working" sales).   I have been to CRT refurbishing plants in China which are great, and I know none of my recycled (bad) CRT tubes (stripped bare for recycling) could go there, especially if Intercon passes the CRT Glass Test (BAN has not accused them of sending MOST or a significant number of CRT tons to China, and a mere 3 containers per week is more a declaration of innocence than guilt).   Both ERI in 2007 and Intercon in 2010 pass the CRT Glass Test - there is no way that any significant percentage of BAD CRTs were being exported by either company.

The "crime" is a Jimmy Swaggart, or Jim Bakker incident.  No one may care very much, except that thou protestedeth too much.

Seeing the Light
What bothers me about either story is not the export, per se. ERI's admission of trading with Chinese people last year was more notable for its earlier (Pledge) disavowal.   The same - even if rules are followed above - may be true of Intercon... The way that Intercon foreswears the export of "intact units" makes them a target.  If Intercon had always said they send a few intact working units, we'd ask the specification, and we'd probably help them send them somewhere other than China, which has protectionist laws specifically banning tested working equipment.  Or we'd look at it with an open mind, perhaps China has a good CRT glass recycling operation again (as it had with Loyalty and in Behei).

Most likely case?  Back to the top of the blog... two companies, two standards.  According to the CEO's inspiring Kung Fu Master video, he grew up in the scrap business.  It may well be that the E-Waste business at Intercon is a case of Two Companies, Two Standards (One Standard Each), Two Processes.  If Intercon can show that the tubes in Hong Kong did not go through Intercon's doors, but that the CEO owns a second company, all may be kosher... or at least labelled "kosher" and "non-kosher", in two separate jars.

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