Pixelating the OECD and Non-OECD E-Waste Geography

I'm about to submerge into Mexico with some professors of history and geography.

The best way to visit the "fair trade recycling" concept will be with history, geography, and economics.  A lot has been written by OECD scholars about "converging markets" and "contract manufacturing".    The question is whether hand- disassembly recycling, repair, and reuse is a decent way to achieve environmental benefit, amd whether it can create sustainable jobs in poorer countries?

OECD lens of Penang, Singapore, and Borneo:  Basel Convention Chaos
My theory, which I've approached from many angles in 2011, is that there has to be something good in trade for two parties to agree to it, and to do it over and over.  If it's not all bad, then it needs to be reformed, not prohibited. Prohibitions and boycotts never work because they ignore supply/demand.

The "attractiveness" of the export boycott is to Americans with typical weakness in geography, math, science and history.  Ignorance lends us to bias.  We draw conclusions from photos.  We think that the entire south of Missouri is wiped off the map when we see homes destroyed by tornadoes in neighborhoods of Joplin.  We think that "non-OECD", plus or minus six billion people, is "primitive".  And if people invest capital around that misperception, they will tend to promote and market to it.

The unholy grail is to get the processes of your competitors declared illegal.  Selling CRTs to be rebuilt into TV/monitor combos?  There may not be any pollution to it, but if I'm running my CRTs through a shredder I bought, it's ok by me for your process to be called "illegal".  As Dilbert calls it, "Using the law to keep justice at bay."  Whether patent law or environmental law or export law, if there are lawyers there are interested parties.

We have this Iowa caucus, one candidate wins all delegates, view of the world.  We use handles like "China" to describe everything from aqua regia recycling in Guiyu to IPhone 5 Shanzai improvement in Shanghai.  We think "Mexico is OECD, and therefore rich", and we think "Singapore is not OECD, and therefore poor".

The Basel Convention was based on a 50 year old white man view of the world, when OECD was formed (originally without even Japan as a member).   Basel equates OECD with "good environmentalism", and superior repair.  Yet compared to the converging markets, almost nothing gets repaired or refurbished in wealthy OECD nations.  Now even the bureaucrats in Malaysia are believing the negative press about "toxic computers", and are moving to regulate the Geeks and Tinkerers with "repair licenses" {Malaysian Media Matters - Uppercaise blog}.  Looks like Pakistan Computer Association needs a transplant.

Just at this morning's maps of Iowa break down to Polk County (Romney-ville), development and recycling skill in China and India and Indonesia is "all over the map."  We need to see that Penang Malaysia is not the same as Borneo.  People who think Penang, Singapore, and Borneo have the same e-waste problems could probably not locate any one on a map.  And some e-waste recyclers simplify it further... it's not even OECD or Basel, it's "no export".  This was used to take away our contract bid in Tucson in 2008... Mexico was export and CRT glass could not be exported.... even though Mexico IS OECD  (Maybe that's how the big pile in Yuma got there).

Fair Trade Recycling is a standard which sees buyers of used equipment for who they are as people and what they are allowed to do and capable of doing, and making contracts and reconciliation so that someone in Boston or NY can use the tools of the internet to monitor how their computers are being reused.   Fair Trade Recycling is 4G.  Basel Convention is shortwave radio.

We can pixelate the "OECD Map".  We can give Facebook and Twitter to Cairo without burning Pentium I computers in the Congo.  I have a dream, where a person is judged not by the color of their national flag, but from the content of their character.  If we trade with the Geeks of Color, the flags will change, and the maps will be redrawn.  That's what democracy is really about.

Or maybe not.  Warranty repair and contract manufacturing want to own everything.  It goes from patent extention to rare earth metals mining rights to EULA agreements.  Our childrens children may see a Stewardship Paradigm which eliminates right to own personal e-waste property (Vermont already, by law, calls it "e-waste" before you remove it from the box... "an electronic device sold to a Vermont (consumer) entity" is automatically controlled by Agency of Natural Resources).

Why did I choose Malaysia for this post?  Singapore was once part of Malaysia (history), but it became "pixelated" into an independent nation.   Penang is another part of Malaysia which remains part of Malaysia, but is more at a par with Singapore than with Malaysia territory on the island of Borneo.  Either Singapore or Penang beats the pants off of Greece (an OECD nation) and would meet the standards of OECD better than most OECD nations.  But Malaysia is passing a law to regulate it's technicians, to make sure they aren't primitive.  Malaysia also has a lot of electronics OEMs with factories there... Historically, money and politics mix when companies "vest" in a nation.   Part of pixelation is that nations - like China and Malaysia - may begin to act on behalf of protectionist territory, at the expense of less developed territory.  It's a tangled web of trade and material shipments, economics, talent, grey markets, and environmental justice.

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