Shanghai Scrap Pictures: 10,000 Scrap TVs in a day

That's a day in the life of reporter Adam Minter (who has recently finished his upcoming book, Wasted, at Bloomsberg Press).  The photo below is from one inland city.

Adam verified with me (prior to his post) that this is not a certain inland city I know of (which does import CRTs, via inland routes from Viet Nam).  No, these are Chinese brand, Chinese generated televisions from Chinese homes.  Which isn't at all surprising when you have been to cities - cities in Asia, South America, and Africa - which are full of millions and millions and millions of people generating their own "e-waste".

Some of you may remember one of my more shocking discoveries from my trip to South America last spring.  The old reuse market which used to buy USA used TVs was still selling used TVs - marks from China.  By commingling their own used ("waste") televisions in a container, China made the new good-enough LCDs they manufacture affordable in smaller, less-than-load samples.  It had nothing to do with China exploiting Peru environmental standards.

I'll stop and let you cruise over to Shanghai Scrap to read Adam's post.  His conclusion was that the process he witnessed did a darn fine job of recycling the televisions.   China has developed a way to manage it's own e-scrap.  That's what we need everywhere that imports, exports, or grows their own electronics.   A ban on trade just doesn't make any sense at all.

The "E-Stewards" boycott is not a solution to anything.  Even R2 has arguably raised the bar unnecessarily, when a purchase order itself is prima facia evidence that the importer does not WANT to import unrepairable or old electronics.

It's time to put to bed the narrative of white guilt and western causality.  The environment is too important to create myths about.   When we catch ourselves, and our compatriots, spreading a myth, it is our duty as an environmentalist, a true environmental steward, to call for the truth even if it costs us clients and liberal friends.   That's all I've tried to do, because I'm getting old and am starting to look at other "end-of-life" issues.

No comments: