Basel Convention vs. OECD Convergence: Export Facts


The worst recycling practices in the world need to be cleaned up.  R2 and E-Stewards, along with different state and federal stewardship laws, create a space which Moral Recyclers need when there are tough choices to be made on recycling price points.

I agree with Basel Action Network and Computer Takeback, at least half the time.   We agree about the situation of the poorest three billion people, or half of the six billion people who do not live in OECD countries.  Lead poisoning of children is not a myth, it's a heartbreaking environmental crime.

This is why I'm so upset to see my friends falsely accused of causing it.  Good exports are different than bad exports.

Rationally, let's look at the numbers.

"Non-OECD" does not mean "primitive". It's 83% of the world, and 50% of the world economy.  I am a staunch defender of geeks and technicians who happen to live in "non-OECD" nations, who operate impressive repair, refurbish, contract manufacturing, elective upgrade, white-box manufacturing facilities, which create sustainable economies and internet access.
  1. Half (50%) of the Global Economy is in Non-OECD countries.
  2. Of OECD raw material exports, about half (50%) are mined ore and timber.  Half are recycled.
  3. Of the recycled portion (including e-waste), it is alleged that 80% of sales are to 83% of the world's population.
  4. During the past decade, growth of internet access in the non-OECD nations grew at ten times the rate as OECD nations.  They need the monitors, even used ones, for video display.
So OECD exports 80 percent of its used monitors (either shredded as raw material, or for reuse) to this 83 percent of the world.   The surprising thing would be ...anything else.  The non-OECD nations are growing, projected to be 60% of the world economy by 2030.   They are younger economies, which have less scrap and more virgin land.  Internet there is exploding.  The older economies have more scrap, and less mining and forestry as a percent of their economy.

Poisoned children in Guiyu China is not a scam or a hoax.  The hoax is that E-Stewards lends them a dime or does anything to help those children.  This is not a beauty contest, where the NGO with the most heartfelt answer gets the contract.  Fair trade recycling means locating the people doing fantastic things, like IFIXIT and WR3A members, and giving them incentives and compensation to create sustainable comfort and prosperity.  Boycotting 83% of the world because the worst 30% of the world is so, so, so sad... It's not a final answer.

And the worst recycling, even in Guiyu, beats beats lead mining in Kabwe. We have to let the developing world reuse and recycle, while giving them the financial incentives to do so in a safe and clean manner.
Fair trade is a real methodology for dealing with e-waste, based on data, trade. We don’t address “primitive” recycling practices in one area of China by boycotting the best recycling practices in the world in another part of China, or another country.
One man’s opportunity for exploitation is another person’s chance for cooperation. The ban on interracial marriage was also a bad idea,no matter how many pictures of unhappy marriages the opponents take. Love will conquer all. And I love the geeks of color in the converging economies of the rapidly developing world.
(Reprinted in   More stats below)

The Basel Convention on the trade of "wastes" splits the world up into two slices:  OECD and non-OECD.  OECD Mexico can trade with OECD USA.  But OECD Mexico cannot trade with non-OECD Guatemala if the item is used computers for repair, according to BAN.

A)  OECD Population:  1,185,000,000 (16.9%)  Original group of "rich" nations (1980 definitions)

Non-OECD Population:

B)  3B3K Population:   3,000,000,000 (42.9%)   Nations where people earn about $3500 per year (3 billion earning 3K per year)

C)  Poorest 3rd.  This is where you have"Primitive Recycling".  It's a big part of the world, population 2,815,000,000 (40.2%).  People in thes nations struggle for electricity, health, education, and clean water.

In the Basel Convention Ban Amendment world, "blue" people above cannot trade with "brown" people.  But in real life, the 3B3K markets - the ones rapidly converging with OECD economically (and surpassing OECD in several cases) are actually improving (converging) because of their trade with blue people.  They are growing faster, buying more computers, and getting online at a faster rate than rich nations.   This is where "Arab Spring" and "Africa Democracy" are happening.

In his 2005 Report, "THE WORLD DISTRIBUTION OF INCOME:  FALLING POVERTY AND… CONVERGENCE, PERIOD(*)"   Columbia University's Xavier Sala-i-Martin attempts to split the actual economic "world" into four groups - A, B, C, and D.  D is a group with no data... but it's pretty similar to my split above, and has nation's names associated with each group.

Basel Convention, as now written, does allow 16.9% to trade with 83.1% if the trade im reuse and repair.  Under the Basel Convention and EPA, there has been explosive growth of affordable internet for 3 billion people in the emerging, or converging, market.  The 17%, the rich, have most of the worlds wealth, and don't "do the repair thing" sp much... and that has been a godsend for Iranians and Egyptians and Indonesians.

The 43% 3B3K is actually the very best at repair and refurbishment.  They prefer to work on newer, less worn-out, stuff.  And that path is how OECD nations like South Korea and Japan emerged, as "networks of tinkerers".

At the very least, Basel, Stewards, and R2 should divide the world in three, and see people for what they can do, not for what they cannot do... .


George Hinkle said...

One of your best posts yet Robin

Dumpster Dude said...

It is not fair to dump e-waste to economically backward countries by the developed nations.