CBS 60 Minutes: Closing the LOoP on Mining?

I've been pretty cross with Scott Pelley of CBS 60 Minutes, after trying to get CBS News and its producer to cover both sides of the export of e-waste.

Tonight, as gold hits another record high, CBS has re-run a story which is something I eyewitnessed in Cameroon Africa in the 1980s (I was also in this part of East Congo). I got into recycling because of the multiple horrors of mining, particularly gold mining. And it's for this stupid yellow metal. Gold. I've spent thousands trying to free patents for gold recycling, have promoted Printed Circuit Board Test to ensure gold is properly recycled.

Here is CBS 60 Minutes, showing why.

Recycling is the only opposite to mining.

FLASHBACK: Indonesia - BAN Accusation 2010

From the files.  BAN uses photos of sea containers, and allows industry and press to assume THIS is the same as THAT.  Technically, BAN says, the correct interpretation of Basel Convention, Annex IX, B1110 would not allow the Indonesian factory on the right.

hammeronmonitor_pic.jpg  is the same as this PT M 050.jpg

But read the press release.  They are not being transparent about what they are objecting to.    They imply the 2002 Guiyu photo is what they stopped in Indonesia.  When I object, they ask for proof of the inside of the containers (which arrived back in the USA with seals still on them, NEVER inspected by Indonesians).
From Contract CRT Manufacturers Album


As in the disputed photos of the outside of sea containers in Chicago (Intercon Solutions), BAN photographed the outside of sea containers in Boston in 2010, and then LINK to photos they took of Guiyu China in 2001.

This is intellectually dishonest.  In the technical world, where people understand that Taiwanese engineers have contract manufacturing capacity in several Asian Tiger countries, the photos BAN uses may as well link to the Wrong, Wrong Lithuanian TV sculpture.

Intercon Solutions Slams BAN with First Documents

Immediately, when I read that BAN was "outing" Intercon Solutions of Chicago Heights for allegedly sending 3 sea containers of illegal "hazardous waste" to Hong Kong, China, I said... "Oh no, not again."

The Watchdog's New "E-Stewards" Clothes
Intercon Press Release at bottom

First, proper recycling is more affordable than ever.  Intercon is located in Illinois, a state with legislation that requires proper management of e-waste - and rewards it financially.   Moreover, with the exception of CRT glass, it has never been more profitable to disassemble and recycle circuit boards.  Umicore, one of the best end markets for dismantled circuit boards, is already having a record year, with shortages of rare earth metals and other proper recycling paying for themselves.  In short, there are few if any incentives for an established company to ship 80% of e-waste to Guiyu.

Second - BAN, I recalled, had "created" news 17 months previous, by alerting Indonesian officials that sea containers headed to a very respectable, ISO14001, refurbishing factory contained "hazardous waste".  Indonesia reacted as the USA would react to being told a container held anthrax - they shipped the container back to the USA, unopened.  BAN ran a press release announcing a great victory.

Parallel Markets: E-Waste Export Policy, USA H1 Visa Immigration Policy

Both the Green-Thompson Bill automatically limiting exports of used computers, and the USA's overly restricted H1 work visa program, get their power from ignorance.

  • People get an image of a colored person committing a crime, environmental or drug related.
  • People form policy around the color and ethnicity of the person committing said crime.
  • People restrict exchange of trade (E-waste goods or Immigration services) based on nationality.

Everything which intelligent people like Fareed Zakaria and Tom Friedman say about the USA banning Indian Ph.Ds from working and investing their intellect in the USA economy can be said about shredding computers which were going to be reused and repaired in Egypt.  Americans do not get more employment by excluding Asian inventors from joining our society and having families here in the USA.  

Americans do not get more income by eliminating exports of repairable computers and shredding them.  I can employ more people exporting repairable computers than I can shredding them.

Inspiration: Don't Leave Environmentalists in Charge

Singapore Welcome
Arjuna inspired me to embrace karma yoga - enlightenment through good deeds and work, rather than meditation pure and simple.

Jacques Cousteau and Jane Goodall inspired me to make protection of rain forests and coral reefs the good I could preserve, rather than produce on my own.

Lester Brown inspired me to scientifically and statistically weigh the impacts of mankinds consumption, and to reduce extraction (mining, refining, forestry, consumption).


Hesse's Siddhartha inspired me to enter business and reality, and to put my foot in every pool, building myself through leadership and exposure to trials.

My grandparents and great grandparents inspired me to work ethic, faith, and sacrifice, to making do and being more than your job defines you to be.

Plato and Socrates obviously inspired me.

My mother inspired me to be open to all of the above, and to expand my geographical horizons, and that if I spoke of being a monk in the Himalayas that was a completely normal thing for her.  My dad inspired me to become someone important.

My wife and children's inspirations are personal, if vital, to who I have become that I couldn't not have planned.

So, as I near 50, I find myself in an odd position of trying to steer the environmentalist juggernaut.  Having found that many people like me - millions - were also inspired by Cousteau, Goodall, and Brown, I find that we environmentalists have excercised our power of caring to leverage millions of dollars in taxes, and in regulatory power.

Watching the E-Waste Detectives: Comstockery

Here is a link to an article recently published in Scrap and Recycling International.  An Asia-based reporter, Adam Minter, visited one of our "Fair Trade Recycling" partners in Malaysia.   He reports on what he saw.  Hint, it wasn't "primitive".

"Recyclers are applying the Fair-Trade model to used electronics, demonstrating that exports for refurbishing and re-use can meet developing countries need for low-cost products -- And facilities the that do the work can meet Developed World standards."

Saturday night, I was reading this while watching History Channel, which had a documentary on sexual mores, flappers vs. puritans, and the war over sexual information in Hollywood.

I realized that using the power of shame and guilt to get people to stop doing what is natural is as old as the Scarlet Letter.  The shaming of people for trading with Geeks of Color is not that different from the war on sexuality, waged less than a century ago in the USA, or laws against interracial marriage much more recently.  Once again, it's being played out in bills submitted to USA Congress.  From wikipedia:
"Comstock's ideas of what might be "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" were quite broad. During his time of greatest power, even some anatomy textbooks were prohibited from being sent to medical students by the United States Postal Service. 
"Comstock aroused intense loathing from early civil liberties groups and intense support from church-based groups worried about public morals. He was a savvy political insider in New York City and was made a special agent of the United States Postal Service, with police powers up to and including the right to carry a weapon. With this power he zealously prosecuted those he suspected of either public distribution of pornography or commercial fraud."
My organization is trying to get people to export and trade with Geeks of Color with better information, documentation, record keeping and accountability (per the article), kind of like Margaret Sanger and many others were trying to educate Americans about sex.    Today, we accept that sex is something to be cautious about, but the Victorian ideas Comstock was enforcing died with his protege, J Edgar Hoover.

The analogies seem apt.   Jim Puckett = Anthony Comstock.  Robin Ingenthron = Margaret Sanger (the philosophical Hugh Hefner, a century ago).  Will Hays Asst. Joseph Green - the first Green Bill.

Export Ethics: Topical/Tropical Possibilities III


Every time I cut a long post up, it takes longer to re-write it, which isn't proper blogging as much as it's job security for Google staff.  This is the third segment  about how Environmental Stewards' callousness to collateral damage in the developing/emerging world harms people and the environment.   As the Watchdogs try to monetize their model, use it to produce income, they are at risk of losing any ethical advantage over the people they accuse.  Sadly, they have allowed themselves to be the primary tool in the war against reuse.


I used the controversy over the Intercon Solutions recycling certification to raise again what happened in February of 2010, when one of the largest and best display device refurbishing factories was at the wrong end of a containerload accused by BAN.org of being "hazardous waste".  This is the third segment.


The Crime:  Recycling While Brown