BREAKING NEWS: E-Stewards Recognizes Mexico!


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Mexican Electronics Recycler, Achieves the "Gold Standard"

Grupo Ecologico MAC become e-Stewards Certified
Seattle, Washington. November 28, 2012 – The Basel Action Network ( BAN ), a global toxic trade watchdog organization, announced today thatMexico-based Grupo Ecologico MAC ( GEMAC ) has become a certified e-Stewards® recycler. GEMAC boasts 20 years of experience in the recycling industry. Its facility in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico has received the e-Stewards certification, and an additional facility in the state of QuerĂ©taro is on track to be certified soon. GEMAC offers electronic and appliance recycling, IT asset management, metal processing, refurbishment, shredding, and data wiping. It caters to electronic equipment manufacturers, retailers, public institutions, private agencies, and government agencies. GEMAC offers world-class service to its customers and suppliers, providing the best management of industrial and electronic waste. It renders its services through a quality integrated management system, with focus on environmental conservation and health and safety of its employees.

GEMAC intends to also become ISO 9001 Certified in 2013, to complement its current ISO 14001, OHSAS18001, R2/RIOS, and now e-Stewards Certification.

We are a responsible recycler in this region, and it is our priority to meet or exceed the highest standards in the industry,” said Jorge Macias, CEO of GEMAC. “e-Stewards Certification is an important and necessary step because it represents our company's philosophy and vision. These certifications reflect our commitment to proper management of commodities, which ultimately assures our customers that we operate our company with integrity and concern for citizens, our employees and the environment.”

Hazardous e-waste unfortunately is all too often not recycled by so-called“recyclers but rather is shipped to developing countries that lack the capacity to regulate these imports or to appropriately handle the toxic e-waste. The e-Stewards Standard not only prevents exportation to developing countries and assures compliance with international law in this regard, but also ensures that the toxic e-waste is not dumped in landfills or incinerators.  Further, the standard safeguards against release of private data on computers or wireless devices.

Companies like Grupo Ecologico MAC should be applauded as they have joined the ranks of true electronics recyclers that have achieved the highest marks for social and environmental sustainability,” said Jim Puckett, BAN's Executive Director. “Leaders lead, and GEMAC is leading Mexico to truly sustainable solutions.”

Now, all in good fun.  I applaud BAN bringing a Mexican company under the tent.  I hope they will go on and certify companies in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt... the ones I've been sharing stories with.  

But why is it Seattle's "Gold" Standard?  Ka-ching.  At Fair Trade Recycling, the money goes from north to south.  To "earn" E-Stewards, Retroworks de Mexico would have to pay money north... to Seattle.

GEMAC is great.  They are in Guadelajara, a big university city, which is where we have recruited some great staff for Retroworks de Mexico.  Our plant in the cruel desert and mining area of Sonora, by contrast, is still struggling.

And let's recognize BAN for an important breakthrough, too.  No, not "recognizing" terrific programs like GEMACs...

WE NOW HAVE THE COMPLETE RETREAT FROM "80-90%".  BAN IS NO LONGER EVEN CLAIMING "UP TO".   NOW THEY ARE WAGING A WAR AGAINST "ALL TOO OFTEN".  I told you "80%" was a lie.  They never defended it, they just parsed the words away.  Recognizing good companies in countries with low per capita incomes is progress, just as abandoning false numbers is progress.

But... This is, after all, Still Sparta...

I would praise BAN rather than mock them, except for one thing.   Mocking them (or Intercon suing them, perhaps) seems to be the only thing that produces this kind of progress.  Would E-Stewards be in Mexico if not for Fair Trade Recycling's defense of Retroworks de Mexico and others?

Some will call this immature.  But Hurricane Joseph Benson of Nigeria, Hurricane PT Imtech of Indonesia, and Hurricane Medi-com of Egypt remain the Hurricane Katrinas of this "anti-export" campaign.  And I mean "Hurricane" in the sense of the Bob Dylan ballad.

I look forward to BAN and E-Stewards making more concrete steps to work with Geeks of Other Tongues.  The more companies they work with in Mexico, the more they will have to continue to moderate their use of "poverty porn".   And maybe we'll be friends one day.  Meanwhile, a job applicant at my plant yesterday brought up what they read about me personally in Slaparoo and in the Chicago Patch article...  So like the Lovings of Loving Vs. Virginia, the only thing I can do is kiss my partners overseas right on the lips in front of the cameras... not because I want to be in the papers, but because I must show I'm not ashamed of companies I work with, and not demanding they pay me money in order to announce they are "ok" to work with, like GEMAC pays E-Stewards.  

Rubin "Hurricane" Carter
We run a good plant in Mexico too.  We don't try to advance it by insulting or denigrating competitors (like GEMAC).

But we don't pay a percentage of earnings to the jokers in Seattle, either.


We didn't pick this fight, but...

Joseph Benson does not deserve to be in jail.  And if we paid e-Stewards the licensing fees for Retroworks de Mexico, we'd be financing the media campaign which put him there, and tore down good sustainable operations in Indonesia and Egypt as well.

Really, what selecting an E-Stewards company in Mexico proves is that the Mexico recycler paid money to BAN.   And they wouldn't be willing to do that, or to do the audit, if they weren't running a tidy little shop.  But that's what your payment guarantees.

This Mexico recycler paid money to BAN.   Retroworks de Mexico, our plant in Sonora, does not "all too often" do anything bad for the environment.   BAN knows no more about our Mexican plant than they did about the operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Indonesia, or China which they destroyed.

Retroworks de Mexico has an open door, and we have invited PBS, NPR, AP and other journalists to visit.  None of them charges us what BAN would charge us to say they have been there and we are "good Mexicans".    Fair Trade Recycling is the only affordable path that good recyclers in emerging markets have... they cannot afford E-Stewards.

Basel Action Network offered me the same deal.  Of course if they audited us and we weren't good, they wouldn't certify us, but wouldn't say anything bad about us (this was before Intercon).   I'm not  saying they are completely on the take.  But if we were good, they wouldn't certify us unlesss we paid them a significant bit of money....

We will not be puppets.   Basel Action Network still refuses to publicly disclose the terms of their contract for "e-Stewards".   I believe it includes a clause that E-Stewards must be praised.

A cynic in Mexico - and a lot of peole have earned that there - would say that BAN adds no value to the cause.  Mexican Recyclers take all the risks and do all the work, they pay BAN money, like protection money, so that BAN won't call them primitives.  BAN is backing off on the negatives, and starting to say positive things about recyclers in Mexico, because of those of us who put on this kind of pressure (and mockery).


So.. our plant in Mexico is, needless to say, NOT an "E-Steward" company.  But we are a good company, and one that BAN was willing to work with if we paid the price.  Did I commit a little "accidental racism" here?  (My padres don't think so).

If you disagree with my comments, share your views on our Facebook page for Fair Trade Recycling.  

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