New World Order: Interpol Calls Recycling Criminal

More on the Worst E-Waste Study Ever Published

Oblique 1970s crime allusion
" Gee, now I learned something.  See, I had just assumed that the more someone pays for something, the more money it's worth.   You know, I had two old cars, and one of them, the one I drive, it still runs, but darn if I can get someone to offer me anything for it.   But my BMW 3.0 convertible, the one with the cracked windshield, missing the timing belt, and needing new plugs, I got offered a lot of money for that - more than $30 grand.   So... Interpol... by your logic, there must be some criminal enterprise behind the BMW market...  That's terrific.  Thanks so much for that. "

This week, ("If used computer exports are outlawed") we examined the simple and obvious inspection and purchase of used electronics (using our Ghana buyer Wahab as an example), through the lens of Interpol's description of "waste tourists" and "organized crime."

The 2009 Interpol reportElectronic Waste and Organized Crime, Assessing the Links (excerpt)  teaches us that the more Wahab pays for the item, the more likely he's a criminal. 
"Televisions and monitors, for instance, can be bought for £2-£3 each and sold on for twice that. ... This suggests a combination of premeditation and organisation, as well as indicating the perpetrators’ awareness that the waste shipment is illegal (i.e.organized criminal activity)"
Even the respected journal E-Scrap News re-broadcast the Europol headline that the E-waste market is being cornered by criminals.   Meanwhile, this week's biggest news is the indictment of Executive Recycling Inc., Brandon Richter, and Tor Olson.

You hear the hum of regulators on motorcycles.  Finally!  Someone is going to arrest someone, and once and for all, set an example for "ewaste exporters"...

You will remember Executive Recycling from the CBS 60 Minutes episode, Wasteland.  That episode did a superb job of covering one side of the story... they got a Polk Award for following the trail of ewaste to a place it didn't go, but finding another atrocious toxic mess, which maybe might have originated from another recycler, similar to Executive Recycling.  How does this USA grand jury indictment compare to the Interpol's new world order and "criminalization of value?"

The USA grand jury indictment of Executive Recycling covers more than 15 counts. Those include fraud and generally misleading business practices.  But there are also elements of the indictment which look disturbingly like the Interpol report... as if they are trying to come up with a crime proportional to the journalistic backlash.  From the Executive Recycling indictment:
4. A significant portion of e-waste collected by the defendants ER, BRANDON RICHTER and TOR OLSON were Cathode Ray Tubes (“CRTs”).  CRTs are the glass video display component of an electronic device, usually a computer or television monitor, and are known to contain lead.
Yes, the CRT tube has vitrified lead.   My kids are watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on one, in my living room.   There is no reference anywhere in the indictment as to whether the monitors ER sold were for scrap or refurbishment.  I would assume from the photos taken inside of Executive Recycling containers that a lot of the tube glass could definitely NOT be reused.  But the monitors circled by CBS in Hong Kong were probably going to a reuse factory.  The indictment above seems to brush aside the nuisance of determining whether the CRTs were waste or remanufactured.

What is missing in the indictment is an allegation that ER is missing the 3 years of data showing the actual fate of every CRT sold, as required by EPA CRT rule.  It is not illegal to sell commodities based on their metal content.   If dictators start seizing any imports that contain lead, a whole lotta laptops and cell phones are going off line. and China may stop the import of cars from GM.  An indictment that says "CRTs contain lead" is not clarifying.

The indictment includes references to a wire transfer of $29, 982 from the Bank of China on behalf of Heng Tong Trading Company (also evidence of crime).   That means ER sent something of value in the containers - Copper coils?... Cigarettes?  Drugs?  Cash? Harley Davidsons?   SOMETHING had value.  Perhaps it was a "mixed bag".  Perhaps more of the CRTs were working than we thought, or perhaps ER shipped so many containers that this is a trifling amount, and most of the contents was waste.  Again, record keeping is the moral of the story.  The ominous mention of payment as evidence of "waste" transit is disturbingly like the Interpol NWO paper.

None of the detectives we are watching - EPA, Interpol, BAN - have really done their job if they insinuate that the TRADE itself and PAYMENT for goods is evidence of the crime.  The Interpol report describes (in passive voice) how Chinese fishermen are involved in ferrying "waste" onto the mainland.  Did the poor Chinese fishermen form a coop to pony up $29k as a favor to Executive Recycling?

I am not defending Executive Recycling.  The CEO is another on a list of businesses who praise the Ayatollah and actually use racist marketing against China, while themselves selling there.  I'm not really defending this buyer, though I'm curious who he was selling to. Was it someone stupid, paying for "80% waste"?  Was it a proper recycling end market, able to use the CRTs?  We don't know.  Like Gordon Chiu (the common denominator in the ERI "Pledge Scandal" and the Indonesia "PT Imtech Scandal"), the buyer is not interviewed ...  like in the Interpol NWO report, they are assumed to be criminal because they paid for "e-waste", and they aren't white.

Am I against all enforcement of environmental laws about E-Waste? Of course not.  I'm a former DEP regulator.  I'm here to help the government to focus its energy on true dumping, which is being seriously diluted in a prohibition campaign against trade in recycling and repair.
Coming Soon  Ken Burns Documentary "Prohibition" on PBS
  • What was illegal in China because it works and China is using "green" laws for protectionism?
  • What was properly or improperly recycled (copper? boards?) and at what value?
  • What was actually dumped or disposed (CRT glass / toxics along for the ride)?
Below are some more excerpts from the Interpol report, which thinks the problem is about MONEY.  The thinking is, "Why do people do something illegal?  It must be for money".   Money is exchanged for VALUE.  The proof someone paid for something is NOT evidence that something was done wrong.
Interpol's internet cafe catcher

Interpol uses the same logic they used against "waste tourists" (which would implicate our friend Wahab and the Ghana buyers), and the authors then insinuate that Samsung furnace in Klang Malaysia, by making CRTs out of recycled CRT glass (rather than virgin mined material) may in fact be part of a criminal enterprise!!   They go on to speculate about LG Philips (Brazil), the Xstrata smelter in Canada, and all the other CRT furnaces and end markets.

The Interpol report takes the group of companies which break and recycle CRT glass, and suggests that they too are illegally exporting glass - to markets with CRT glass-to-glass furnaces.  The report takes data and twists it into a vicious, French Revolutionary title, "Electronics Waste and Organized Crime".  This is, bar none, the WORST study I have ever come across on "e-waste".  
"...[V]ariation in business structure still raises several questions for further exploration. Does the nature of the e-waste business vary between small businesses and those embedded in larger corporate structures?  For example, are small businesses more likely to collect e-waste from the general public and other businesses?  And why do companies move CRT glass from US recycling operations to foreign ones?  Do facilities vary in capacity or technology or is it less expensive (even within the same company) to recycle CRT glass in foreign countries?  Do these differences in the nature of the activity have any bearing on whether exports are legally recycled or 
illegally disposed of?"
"...These business structures may also have implications for possible unintentional and intentional organized/group crime connections.  For example, recycling facilities exporting to other facilities owned by the same company do not have to rely as extensively on third parties to transport and recycle e-waste. E-waste exported from small businesses may change hands several times, creating more opportunity for illegal practices.  "...
..."MSU was unable to explore the ownership structures of importers as extensively as those of exporters because of the limited availability of public data on non-US companies. It did verify that Falconbridge is owned by a Swiss mining company named Xstrata and believes that RMG Canada is owned by a US company (RMG Enterprises). Because of the well-known names of the remaining importers (e.g. Samsung Corning, LG/Philips), it is believed that some are part of larger corporate structures."
"Less was learned less about the three Korean importers, but there are indications of connections. For example, United Recycling Industries exports to Sam Bu Inc, but also lists Korea China Enterprises (another importer) as a secondary recycler."   
Indications of connections??  MY WORD!!  The paper goes on and on, saying practically nothing, distributing someone else's data as if they had done some investigation.  While there is nothing particularly wrong about pontification, or supposing aloud that use of secondary materials could be a ruse of some kind, there are real people involved (Bob at RMG) who they could quite simply have picked up the phone and asked before dragging their names through this utter garbage exercise.  The paper deserves an F.

Shame on MSU for allowing their names to be attached to a report which simply takes USA recyclers who declare the process / break bad CRT tubes (the lazy and illegal companies have no CRT glass residue, citation Basel Action Network / Retroworks joint study 2004).   Shame on MSU for allowing an article that says the more Wahab pays for computers, the more likely he is to be a black criminal.  There is more important environmental crime to address, such as stopping the trade in ivory and bushmeat.

Can we all avoid the next Oxbow Incident, when the next PT Imtech sustainable repair factory is lynched for the crime of "recycling while brown?"

Prohibition.  Quote after quote in the Ken Burns documentary says that it is wrong to take away Ghana's choice of how to achieve internet access.

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