The Blind Mis-Leading the Blind

Basel Action Network attacks ISRI, both in a press release today, and last week in E-Scrap News.  Quote from BAN on the ISRI Data presentation:
The ISRI-sponsored report doesn’t pass the smell test,” says Jim Puckett, BAN's Executive Director.  “Basic analysis reveals it to be even worse than a case of garbage in, garbage out.  ISRI puts its fingers on the scale of even the flawed data. The resulting conclusions are both inaccurate and irresponsible., once again, makes "profit and payment" the villains.  If ISRI is for-profit, and BAN is not-for-profit, and neither has good data, should we trust BAN or ISRI?  If Ghana Tech is making money selling working display units to internet cafes and hospitals, how can we trust him?  Smash the value and refuse to export smashed goods, BAN says, is the only way to be safe.  E-Stewards say "I know my goods should not be exported - not because I tested them, but because I've already shredded them."  

But, how do they know Africa Geek's exports are bad?  What does my decision to shred material I don't test say about his decision to pay money to buy, pack, ship, import, and resell?

This is getting really old.   The Ghana Report, along with the ASU study, shows that payment for used electronics is one of the strongest indicators of value.   WR3A interviews with importers show BAN is making a killing on a self-fulfilling prophecy.   Discourage exports among e-stewards, and the buyers have fewer choices of supplier.  Good data is hard to see in dark alleys.

BAN has created the Al Capone, and now lines its coffers with "non-transparency" attacks.  Do I agree with some of BAN's statements about ISRI/IDC methodology?

When BAN has spent a decade making up data from whole cloth, a completely FALSE claim of 80% primitive recycling, any decent data moves the discussion forward.   I score this one for ISRI.  Despite the flaws in the study, BAN is wearing nothing.   BAN is completely naked.  And real people in Indonesi are hungry tonight because BAN's self-serving fatwah.  Declare geeks primitive, poison the well, tell people that ISRI members are poisoning the children.

Instead of data, the press release reminds us that journailsts saw dumping grounds.  Been there, discussed that.  Hospitals have morgues.   The alternative to recycling is mining, more poison than the worst recycling.  The dumping grounds are generated by the nations self-generated e-waste, and by 10-30% residue in imports.  Both those problems are better resolved by fair trade recycling than by shredding working product.

Shame on you Basel Action Network.  All you ever do is attack, you never apologize for a false accusation, despite pictures and proof of your lynching and shredding.    ISRI will not be the first or the last data to show that "recycling is good".  If BAN wants to make them the enemy of the Perfect, they are leading environmentalists into a long, dark, back-alley of non-transparency and prohibition, which of course has been demonstrated to work as well as did the bans on interracial marriage, abortion, alcohol and marijuana.

Accusation is easier than rebuttal
Sure, ISRI's data is flawed.  If you cannot come up with alternative data, keep your press release to yourself.  That is not a rebuttal.  Come on, tell people why the Boston Globe March 2010 article now has BRACKETS [ ] inside quotation marks.   Why does the online article no longer say "primitive wire burning" in describing the former contract manufacturing factory which reused, refurbished, and put in glass washing?  Lynching liars.  Mel Brooks "Inquisition" musical may be remade some day for the Ayatollah of e-Waste (and no, I'm not putting in a youtube clip here... but trust me, it's sadly funny).

ISRI's report provides a service by providing data.  BAN has provided only racist photos that repeatedly, as nauseum, show poor children when they KNOW for a FACT that they have attacked th Samsung Corning glass-to-glass operation in Klang Malaysia and the warranty-OEM-manufacturer-takeback operations in Indonesia, and that a major study has shown their false, misleading, fictious statements about exports to Ghana to be laughable racist bullshit.   Come on now, BAN... where's YOUR data?   Methinks thy press release doth protest too much.

Below are some observations about BAN's "rebuttal" to the IDC Report.

From the BAN Release (my comment in blue):

Sample evidence of mass exportation of e-waste from the United States to developing countries 
  • Mr. Gary Tam, of the Environmental Protection Department of Hong Kong, reported to INTERPOL that Hong Kong intercepted 322 illegal shipments – full containers – of hazardous e-waste from 2007 to 2009.  The three-month average weight of intercepted illegal hazardous e-waste, at the end of that period, was about 150,000 tons.  This is a fraction of the likely e-waste flow as only a small number of containers moving into Hong Kong are inspected.
Hong Kong considers all used electronics, the entire secondary market, to be "e-waste".   At an Interpol meeting in DC, I asked the HK official if a one-week old, tested working pentium 4 laptop, is included in "e-waste".  The answer was YES.  This is evidence of the denominator, not of how much "bad" or "primitive" waste in the numerator.
  • Likewise, the US EPA has been counting and collecting evidence. Along with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security, the EPA filed criminal charges against Executive Recycling for at least 300 incidents of illegal exporting of e-waste to developing countries between 2005 and 2008.   
A single recycler is indicted (not even convicted, but set that aside) on charges of fraud.  How does this in any way rebut ISRI data?  It is evidence of the 20% residue, at worst. 
  • The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) set up fictional brokers in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, Singapore and Vietnam, and caught scores of US recyclers illegally exporting e-waste.  The GAO's 2008 report  provides irrefutable evidence, and little has changed since publication to decrease opportunities for exporting.
I participated in this study.   It was somewhat flawed in that the GAO "sting" offered MORE money for WORSE product.  I agree that too many USA companies said yes.  But it doesn't exist in the free market, someone offering more for banana peels than for peeled bananas.  
Dumping occurs.  When a study is performed of what percentage of the exports account for that dumping, it's below 20%.  BAN has yet to respond to newer, more sophisticated study, wants to remind us only of the "gotcha" moments in years old publicity they themselves set up.  They should add Boston Globe to the list, since its more recent - the accusation BAN made against the Indonesian refurisher with glass recycling in March 2010.  
  •  In the past three years, BAN itself has tracked 325 containers, 250 (or 77%) of which were exported from North America to Hong Kong, Vietnam and other developing countries.  BAN has documented those containers leaving e-waste recycling facilities and informed competent authorities in country.  In most cases, the governments have rejected these containers of e-waste as illegal for import into their countries.
 McCarthyism, pure and simple.  BAN doesn't even bother to ask if the containers are clean scrap, working product caught in protectionist customs, or to look in the containers.  Here BAN admits to exactly what I accuse them of doing in Indonesia, informing the government that the containers hold "hazardous waste", and the containers return to the USA, unopened, seals intact.  It's like accusing someone of interracial marriage.  It's sick.  

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