Redemtech Explains (Attacks) R2

Singapore Internet Cafe
Basel Action Network says that my criticism has been mean-spirited, sometimes "ad hominem" attacks.  My friends see this blog as a purely defensive force.  If BAN and E-Stewards stops with the attacks on refurbishers, a la California Compromise, we could do great things together.  But classifying all 83% of the world in "non-OECD" nations as primitive wire burning victims is just wrong.

Here's a case in point.  E-Stewards are mounting their own blogs.  Here is one, sponsored by Redemtech of Ohio, by professional writer Carol Baroudi.  I'm not attacking Redemtech here.   But using Carol's own words, by agreeing with them, are we attacking her? Or is this a ricochet wound?

Redemtech is an electronics recycling company in Ohio.  They are an E-Steward certified "ewaste" company.   Bob Houghton, the CEO, has been in the business for a long time, and is a respected IT recycler.  This is not an attack on Redemtech... but this is the only way to reply.  When Redemtech started a blog, I left some comments.  I don't recall the comments ever being approved by moderators.  So, I'll try to get my point across here.

Redemtech blogger Carol Baroudi sounds off on R2, EPA's "Responsible Recycler" certification, and why E-Stewards is superior.   Note the tone...
First and foremost – No non-functioning equipment is ever exported. Got that? Never. R2 makes no such claim.
Got it.

This is certainly true.  I don't think anyone disputes that.  What is disputed is whether an E-Steward's working P2s are somehow superior to the P4's with replaceable capacitors which Wistron or another Asian subcontractor wants to buy.    Or whether the USA creates more jobs shredding those P4s rather than selling them back to the company that makes capacitors, for 5 times more money.  What is disputed is whether the same factory that takes back product for repair under warranty can also buy the exact same computer at surplus and do the same thing.  E-Stewards, according to the quote, considers warranty repair and manufacturer-takeback to be a crime.

There are more examples of "non-functioning" but good exports.  Empty ink cartridges for refilling ... no one claims those are "functioning"... there are lots of things in the "cores" business, for which "fully functional" is not an important criterion.   And it's all legal under Basel Convention Annex IX.  Lots of OEMs want us to shred the ink cartridges, rather than refill them, because they sell new ones for $20-30 each.  Maybe that's why some OEMs are the biggest contributors to E-Stewards.

Redemtech shipment
CRT monitors.  Why is "non-functional" so important to Carol, when it's not what the buyers are screening out?  I have personally seen Redemtech containers being unloaded in Jahor Bahru, Malaysia, when I went to visit a buyer there.   The Redemtech CRTs may well have been "tested working".   But the buyer's specifications were not "tested working".  The buyer didn't want "working" R4 tubes (trinitron).  But the buyer would be happy to receive other tubes that did not have a working power supply, because that's what the buyer does - refurbishes tubes.

These Redemtech PCs are being reused, and Redemtech should be as proud of trading with the Malaysians in this photo as I am.  If they refuse a tested working 21" tube because it's too big, or a 17" because of a surplus backlog or raster test, and pay $10 for the others... how could they be burning them?  It's obvious without visiting them.  But I did visit them, and was impressed.

I am the one who raised "warranty repair" as an issue, thinking that might cause people to think a little bit about who the contract manufacturers were.   I worked with ones which did both warranty returns and purchased refurbish-able ones on their own.

I thought that might really bring people closer together, explaining how warranty repair is the same factory as purchase certain (but not all) "non-functioning equipment".

But it's true.  First and foremost, warranty returns are non-functioning equipment.   They are made almost universally in factories which are not OECD.  Redemtech asks if we "got that"?

Got it.

When my company ships to the factory, we read the specifications in the PO, we remove what they want us to remove (including working equipment which is in surplus, or low demand, or wrong size/spec), and we get a feedback or QA/QC report explaining exactly how well our staff prepared what they shipped, and whether any of it was outside what they needed.  We had the factory inspected to meet R2 processes, and as a result of our contract, they became a CRT glass processor, taking back bad ones from the places they sold good ones (think needle exchage or "computers for clunkers").

So my problem with E-Stewards?  I think we can agree:
First and foremost – No non-functioning equipment is ever exported. Got that? Never. R2 makes no such claim.
So I haven't said or implied Redemptech is a bad company.  I think they are a great company.  I just happen to think that the people we both sold to in Malaysia had a great company, too.  And from in depth, face to face meetings, I am pretty sure I know what they need from us to make the world better.

What I don't understand is what the heck the factories Redemtech and I both sold to have to do with the primitive child photos in burning ditches which E-Stewards displays on its website.  Mr. Ong said "hi", by the way, when he gave me a ride across the bridge to his home in Singapore.

What else does Redemtech;s blog say is bad about R2 Certification?
Secondly – No electronic waste is ever incinerated or sent to landfill. Ever. R2 is lousy with loopholes and R2 recyclers may send e-waste to landfill or incineration whenever they deem it “technically and economically” more feasible than, say, handling it appropriately. R2 allows unrestricted use of landfill and incineration of non-toxic materials. 
I was at the R2 stakeholder meeting where this was discussed.  If there is a flood, radioactive contamination, or something that makes the recyclable material UNACCEPTABLE to the recycling market (yes, this happens), then what do you do?  R2 says you measure it and record it and explain it.  E-Stewards says accidents will never happen, and R2 is guilty of entertaining the possibility they might.  The fact is that we have to disclose it, so it's not much of a loophole.
Third – E-Stewards prohibits shredding of mercury-containing devices. R2 deems “items too small to be removed at a reasonable cost” appropriate for shredding. No matter how small the item, when you have a shipping container-full, that’s a lot of mercury contamination.
Well, my company is getting R2 certified.  We don't shred mercury devices.  We don't own a shredder, so that's probably obvious to our clients.

Is my only choice to pay CENSORED percent of my company's gross earnings to BAN for a publicity campaign against my friends?  Or can I just put in my service contracts that I won't shred mercury devices?  I don't even know what mercury devices they are talking about here... I presume LCDs.  The subject probably came up amongsth the shredding companies in E-Stewards.   I don't know anyone doing it.  Is that really "number three"?

CR Tubes and Assembly Boards
We agree that "first and foremost" the problem is E-Stewards definition of "fully functional" - a definition rejected by the Basel Convention, and impossible with warranty repair, and unnecessary when the Geeks of Color know what they want.

Second and secondmost, we don't send material to a landfill unless it's an unacceptable contaminant, (which is better than to blend it in to recyclable loads so the buyer doesn't catch it).  We record the landfilled percentage of our entire plant (less than 1%, if you are concerned).  Most of the landfilled material is WOOD from console TVs.  How many console TVs does Redemtech manage?

Shop with mostly Redemtech Product
Third and thirdmost, we don't shred mercury containing devices, and doubt seriously we could find someone willing to shred it who was not an imbecile.

There you have it.  R2 has been above "attacking the category" in most cases.   If this comes close, well, Redemtech "started it" by mocking the R2 standard my company is being certified to.  E-Steward Vs. R2.

The problem with the whole E-Stewards campaign is negative marketing, and using images to distort peoples view.   Most of the victims of the defamation are geeks of color, but at times the Redemtech blog doesn't seem to be above casting a little dirt on American recyclers who use a different certification, as well.  One cert attacking another cert is a "category" attack... we don't want to boycott e-Stewards, and they shouldn't be maligning R2.

 We are who we say we are and we do what we say we do.  We export less than 25%, landfill about 1 percent, don't shred mercury.  We own a fair trade company in Mexico for reuse and recycling, and we are proud of what we do, even if the "rules" we don't follow are written in SCARLET LETTERS.

I confess to being relentless whenever a geek I have personally met and done business with is dissed and dismissed based on race and stereotype.  I have meet Mr. Ong, and I have met Bob.  I'd prefer not to have to choose between them.

1 comment:

Jim Thomson said...
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