Environmental Malpractice, Part III: Facing Collateral Damages

Born in:   Mexico, Mexico, USA, Palestine, USA, Taiwan, USA, Malaysia

This is the third part of a blog I wrote after a very busy week.  We gave the opening tour of the Fair Trade Recycling Research Grant at Retworks de Mexico (see our FTR Facebook Group), presented at ICRS, met with students from Net Impact, and I flew to present at the E-Waste Summit in Vegas -- where I came face to face with Jim Puckett and Mike Enberg of BAN/E-Stewards.

When I met with BAN... Kissinger-China?  Not really.  I used to work very closely with Jim and Sarah at BAN.  In Vegas, Jim made polite and peaceful references during his presentation, alluding to my help bringing them to showcase the worst practices in Africa.
HR2284 View of the World

When Basel Action Network talks about the "worst practices" in Africa, they aren't talking about the Kabwe lead mine (perhaps the most polluted place on earth).   When they describe horrible environmental practices in Indonesia, they aren't talking about the tin mining in the coral islands (focus of today's Guardian newspaper).

BAN did refer to cases covered by the Guardian newspaper in 2009... the arrest of Joseph Benson.  Benson was exporting used televisions to Nigeria for reuse or repair.  Someone at Greenpeace told Benson a TV was working, but rigged it to fail, and then did a bit of "waste tourism" to follow the TV to Lagos.  
British investigators have arrested 12 people this year in swoops on suspected illegal exporters after inquiries by The Independent found that waste electronic and electrical equipment (Weee), much of which is deposited by householders at municipal dumps, was being bought by middlemen and sent abroad rather than being safely recycled in the UK.
The problem is, that when Basel Convention (the real international body, not the small Seattle NGO) investigated the exports to Nigeria and Ghana, they found 85% of the goods were reused, and most of the "e-waste" filmed at the dumps was generated by Africans, in use for years, and traded in for newer used equipment.  The twelve people arrested were innocent.  But Puckett was still waving the 2009 article in his presentation, and referencing the infamous Interpol report which called African used electronics dealers "organized crime".

I spoke to Jim after his presentation about his use of Joseph Benson (and I do mean "used" him), the PT Imtech refurbishing factory in Indonesia (another scam, false report sent to Indonesia officials saying their imported CRTs were "hazardous waste" when they were for refurbishing at contract manufacturer), and the seizure of "e-waste computers" in Cairo in 2008 - which were all fully functional, tested working, Pentium 4s.

His description:  collateral damage.

I'm offering Jim a chance to make good on what he calls "collateral damage" in the war on e-waste exports.  These are three cases of high skilled techical repair teams, who buy stuff from rich people because it's nicer than buying stuff from poor people.  That isn't "exploitation", it's the most basic simple principle in the secondary market.  Goodwill and Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul stores don't collect from poor people to give to other poor people.   Jim's response to me in Vegas, "let the technicians repair the stuff from their own countries", was utterly and completely clueless about the emerging world.  He's in his own little Truman Show, where segregation of rich and poor makes the poor healthy and wealthy.


Forget the defamation of Intercon Solutions, or me personally.  When is BAN going to get around to apologizing to Benson, PT Imtech, or Medicom?  Professional technicians were described as "primitive" operations by BAN and Greenpeace, and the UK Independent believed them ... why?

In the zeal to remedy problems the Anti-globalists fear, they are willing to kill the successes.

In its own melting pot of defamation, BAN has thrown six billion people (the "non-OECD") into hot cauldron of Pieter Hugo photos, toxic-juju words, ghoulish alliterations, faked statistics, planned obsolescence, anti-gray market dictator censor subjugation. The faces of real people stare blankly at BAN.org website, wondering what they did to deserve this.

Collateral damage, Jim says.  All for a more "law abiding" world.  But Jim's chief contribution is to make "repair" the exact same thing, legally, as "waste".  He has defined recycling, repair, and reuse to be forms of pollution.  Coming next:  actual photos of three of Jim's "polluters".

Coming up:  Actual photos of the operations which they called "primitive".

My photos aren't as "colorful" as the ones by artist Pieter Hugo, which BAN adorns its website and annual report with.  But they are truthful.

No comments: