Environmental Malpractice 5.1: Egypt and USA Crimes

Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. 
Winston Churchill

Aggravated against the profiling, arrest, and then defamation of 3 cases of Geeks of Color...   Just as I went to check on BAN.org's coverage of the Joseph Benson (Env Malpractice 7) case, I found this gem about similar USA arrest of "E-waste Criminals".  It's another digression from the Final Environmental Malpractice case study of the Indonesian reuse plant.

Here is the entire discussion between Mike Enberg of BAN and I, using their blog... assuming my comment below isn't "moderated" away.

Enberg says:


Thursday, November 8, 2012
From the EPA — On October 18, 2012, Mark Glover and Discount Computers, Inc. (DCI) pled guilty to crimes associated with electronic waste, making it the first e-waste conviction in the country.
Glover pled guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and DCI was charged with one count of trafficking in counterfeit goods and one count of illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste.
EPA’s criminal program in Region 7 received information from a Missouri DNR Inspector regarding the abandonment of computer monitors/CRTs by DCI in St. Louis, MO. MDNR explained that during their inspection hundreds of computer monitors, CRTs, and computers were observed in the warehouse.
Furthermore, MDNR observed documents relating to the overseas shipment of computer monitors to Egypt. According to MDNR, labels bearing the serial numbers and other manufacturer information were being removed from computer monitors and replaced with new ones to reflect a more current date of manufacture. Once the CRT’s were re-labeled in Missouri, they were shipped to DCI in Michigan for inspection and subsequent re-shipment overseas. The alleged labeling was committed because Egypt prohibits the entry of CRT’s manufactured prior to 2003.
It has been determined that since 2006 DCI has filed approximately 300 Shippers Export Declarations with a destination of Egypt involving a total value of approximately $9,500,000.

Your comment is awaiting moderation. 
Mike, the Egyptian export cases are much more nuanced than this suggests. The Egyptian government banned import of monitors 5 years after “MADE ON” date. There is typically a year to retail, then 3-4 years of use in the USA, then the monitors have to be shipped and re-exported. I did this for years and stopped exporting after the Egyptian law because I was not willing to swap dates. But the central fact is that this is a “fraud” case, not an environmental crime. If BAN wants to side with the dictators who tried to put internet out of reach of common Egyptians, a law and order case can be made. But the term “e-waste” violation implies that this is an environmental crime. I am very very proud of the computers I sold to Egypt until the 2008 law. I remain friends with Egyptians who say that quality of goods went DOWN after the law as they had fewer sellers (like any Prohibition or back-alley law). The case can be made that the swapping of date of manufacture codes was a “victimless crime”. It may be a crime. but please blog about it responsibly, it’s a black eye on the environmental community’s unintended collusion with dictators.

When MY goods were seized in Egypt, I stopped exporting there, but I NEVER thought our buyer, Medicom, was doing anything "criminal".    The photo Mike uses, front and center, is clearly implying that Egypt was cracking down on a source of "primitive wire burning".  My post about Egypt, in contrast, shows ACTUAL photos of the life of the monitors I exported there.  (Egyptian techs were notoriously picky and accepted only 10 year old computer monitors of certain brands and quality).   
If the University of Washington, a recent E-Stewards Enterprise, has any EGYPTIAN students willing to chime in here, I'd be very interested to hear what they think of the University's support for this kind of profiling.  My invitation from November, complete with German Public TV coverage of the same Egypt "e-waste crime" enforcement, went unanswered, despite my meeting face to face with Jim and Mike to discuss this kind of "collateral damage".
Mike Enberg I found to be very transparent and honest with me as we shared a cab ride back from the conference in Las Vegas.  I do not believe he has a racist bone in his body.   But this is at best tone-deaf, to treat every customs seizure as an environmental or "e-waste" crime.  If the definition of "e-waste" includes fully functional, working computers, seized from their owners by dictators, perhaps we need to export more of it.

BAN and E-Stewards are tied up with defamation cases and collateral damage complaints because they have been shooting from the hip.  CRTR should have sued them, PT Imtech should have sued them, Medicom should have sued them, Joseph Benson should still sue them, and Intercon Solutions finally has.   Me, I accepted a simple apology from their spokesman, Donald Summers, who called me a liar spreading myths about good practices while "dumping on the poor", as I did when Jim Puckett called my Fair Trade Recycling proposal "poisoning people".  But my reluctance to sue environmentalists in court does not mean I am deferential to their reckless environmental malpractice.
Post on their website, I'd be interested to hear their explanation of "ewaste dumping yards" in Egypt resembling the photo. I they don't get back to you, cc Mr. Alex Credgington, and ask if University of Washington has defamation insurance, and what the cost of the retainer is on student tuition, and how much money University surplus property sold for when I bought computers from Seattle and shipped them to Egypt.  Oh, did I forget to mention that?    Time for another "E-Steward" to "see the light".

Alex Credgington
University of Washington, Communications Manager

!~~ ) _~_ -- blog end

Here is a comment I got from a student about my criticism of this post today:
  • Robin, thi is absurd and one sided. There was an extensive third party evaluation done in 2011 that showed the extent of ewaste pollution in Egypt (and the state's inability to properly regulate it). Egypt is notorious for having one of the worst waste management regimes in the region, often falling to the poorest residents of the city along religious/social norms (I.e- Christian minorities   This is almost as bad as when you rant about BAN's propaganda and in suppor of your argument your quote the China Daily (communist party newspaper????)
So, I'm open to criticism (though I have no idea what the China Daily refers to... reference to ink cartridge patent laws?  This link to the article saying toxics on Chinese farms come from virgin metal smelting and mining?   Probably the video of Chinese recycling from the China Daily which I commented on. 

This student appears shocked that I'd question BAN (as shocked as the anonymous student researcher who commented a year ago this week).  That, my friends, is why I try everything.  Humor. Insults. Praise, diplomacy, partnership.  Anything to get the damn foot off the throats of my friends.

Here is a link to all the UN publications from the past year, including one on Egypt, and the one which Nate Hutnak and Oscar A. Orta attended to represent Fair Trade Recycling.

The one from Egypt, as I understand it, says this:

1) CRT Monitors made more than 5 years ago (2007?) are outlawed.
2) Outlawed monitors are seized
3) Seized monitors are an e-waste problem

Ok, yes and that's why we stopped exporting to Egypt.  But the monitors were not WASTE until the government banned their import!  The St. Louis company (and others I know of) responded by changing dates and serial numbers, monitor by monitor.  Do they really think they did that to avoid recycling the monitor?  Or did they do that because Egyptians wanted the monitors??

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/01/14/martin-luther-king-jr-memorial-drum-major-quote-to-be-corrected/#ixzz2EwpV7CRb


1 comment:

WR3A's Robin Ingenthron said...

Later, it comes out these CRT monitors were sold from the warehouse in the USA at $21 each. That's even before shipping and customs cost. It's astounding anyone, anyone could think they're to be burned for $2.23 in copper scrap. Shame,