THE TWEET: "4 films on E-Waste Recycling: IFIXIT, WR3A, Fedele, PBS. See all and you begin to see the Elephant in Africa's room"
Kyle Wiens group, IFIXIT.org, and his professional blogger (I'm green with envy) Elizabeth Chamberlin presented on this Fixers film at Ismael's Electronics Recycling conference in Vegas. The documentary is being produced with filmmakers at The Atlantic.
WR3A had wanted to do something like this in 2007, when we had the grant from CEA which resulted in the 3 minute "Fair Trade Recycling" film (original version presented at CES Conference). We had dozens of interviews filmed in different countries with hand-held flip cameras and amateur and below-amateur camera people. Bad sound, no translation, poor lighting, rambling unedited footage can be seen at WR3A group, viddler.com.
My next goal is to do a one-day event in California, have the day's take divided by geeks (perhaps from IFIXIT or Tech Soup) into two equal piles. Then we'll RFID tag or geo-tag the items and send one batch to a California, no-intact unit E-Steward. The other will go to Retroworks de Mexico, the womens coop which was profiled by PBS in 2010, and which is the stepping stone for the Memorial University / USC / WR3A / Peru grant ($469K) to do in depth interviews, secondary research, and film of the repair and reuse market. The idea is to do an actual mass balance, and compare the environmental results when a group of struggling poor people, with the right tools and training, competes against a California shredding machine.
I'm grateful to Basel Action Network for one thing. I've got an immense passion for the value added by repair and reuse, the way poor people find money in the pockets of discarded clothing, the way they resew buttons on jeans. I love the story (from an engineer at Umicore) of the teenage kid in Ghana who jailbreaked his IPhone when every Belgian tech had said it was impossible. Because BAN.org made this trade between rich and poor "controversial", because they made it look horrific and toxic and exaggerated the relative risk of recycling compared to mining (the only other source of metals), now my passion is considered controversial enough to get university funding.
What if I loved something that everyone agreed was a no-brainer? Would we ever have gotten funding?
Most of the world thinks repair and recycling is a no-brainer. Thank goodness for the Orwellian, Joseph Conrad-ish portrayal of computer monitor refurbishing by our friends who invented the term "e-waste" to describe the purchase of less-than-flat display devices by Africans, Asians and Latinos. I'm looking forward to seeing this Fixers Film in its entirety and comparing it to David Fedele's well meaning (but in my view, tunnel-visioned... simultaneously peeping and myopic) e-Wasteland. That one is a very, very truthful account of a rather small percentage of the export business. If you see it after watching Fixers, you'll be ready to see the 2009 Fair Trade Recycling Mexico PBS and Fair Trade Recycling videos to grasp the solution to the questions it poses.
Then you'll understand my rage at Basel Action Network, which has devoted all their energy to banning this solution, via unsuccessful rejected interpretations of Annex IX of the Basel Convention (which they blatantly lied about having been accepted when they are rejected by Basel, in writing) and with the promotion of USA legislation to ban Fair Trade Recycling.
Take time to enjoy the Fixers film first. I will forward a FairTradeRecycling.org Factsheet on Mining and Repair Statistics if Elizabeth or Kyle is interested in any collective thought. It's a three dimensional world, and if people are actually excited to visit Africa based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, it doesn't make sense to be angry at the stereotypes it churns... so long as they actually DO finally visit and see the whole picture... trunk, tusks, blanket, and the wall.
Join the unedited discussions and see more videos and articles at Facebook's Fair Trade Recycling group - join today, it's free.