The Most Hazardous of E-Waste

It has the metals, the flame retardants, all the chemical composition of the E-Waste you have read about.  Eight pounds of lead in the glass, phosphors, copper and other non-ferrous metals.

In addition, it has live current running through it, posing risk of electric shock.  Yet many seek to call it a "commodity", not governed by e-waste regulations.

This device even emits signals intended to change the way you behave.  It will try to alter your voting and purchasing patterns.  It has been blamed for an epidemic of obesity.

The television in your living room, your bedroom, or kitchen... have you looked at it closely?  At what point is it the most dangerous of e-waste?  While it's lividly emitting sound and signals in your living room, or when it's safely unplugged in your garage?

Does the Sun Orbit Our Compassion?

Guiyu, China is a polluted place.  Part of it is polluted by the textile industry.  But these burn-houses for circuit boards are real, and no one is saying they are good.  Not much "e-waste" recycling is done by the river, there is no CRT business in Guiyu, and the sophistication of the chip sorting and reuse business really deserves more credit.   But there is pollution there, enough pollution for children to have high levels of lead in their blood samples.  Without question, we can see it.  Guiyu deserves our help.

My fair trade recycling campaign is not about making excuses for the sale of circuit boards to places like Guiyu.  What we propose is that trade can be used as a lever to incentivize reforms.   Just as we lowered the price of SKD monitors sold to Malaysia in return for ISO14001 certification and glass-to-glass recycling of residuals, we believe that Guiyu's economics can be used to negotiate improvements to the standards for children.  This is a math problem.

My African Neighbors, 1985
Agbogbloshie, Ghana is really the same story.   There's no denying that its sad to see a kid busting a CRT tube with a rock.  I'm not sure why someone does that... there's not much inside a CRT tube but a metal shadow mask.  But I've seen it on film, and even if the TV was  used in Ghana for years, I'm not heartless.  Lead in children's blood bothers me a lot.

My fair trade recycling campaign is not intended to make excuses to send "toxics along for the ride" to Ghana or Nigeria.   It's intended to reform the trade, so that people keep their jobs, their repair jobs, their reuse jobs - even their recycling jobs, if we eliminate the burning. But most of all, it's about observing the constellation of the recycling trade more closely, listening, doing Q-sort, and not selling the conclusion that the sun orbits the earth.

2012: InterCon Takes On Basel Action Network

Word came in Friday's E-Scrap News that Intercon Solutions is suing Basel Action Network - for defamation.

E-Stewards asked to Co-Defame (Herbert Block 1950)
BAN's "E-Steward" business model looks to many people like selling insurance against their own defamation campaign.  Whether Intercon Solutions wins, loses, or settles, we should note that they are not alone.  Unfortunately, most of the people being tarred as "primitives", "polluters", "criminals" and "exporters" don't have the wherewithal to sue Basel Action Network.

Eleven months ago, BAN's accusations vs. Intercon Solutions of Chicago Heights domineered the "e-scrap" and "e-waste" news.   My company had traded in a fair amount of "focus materials" with Intercon - CRT Tubes.   We knew that Intercon was passing the CRT Glass Test, which Basel Action Network agreed with us (in 2004) is the #1 indicator of bad behavior.  People called here to warn me that maybe the CRT tubes were going to China.  It was mathematically ridiculous.

Unfortunately, BAN seemed to have forgotten that lesson.   Rather than do Intercon the courtesy of saying that they passed 80/20 rules for focus material, BAN made it all about a single mysterious container which they photographed and tracked from the Intercon yard to a destination in Hong Kong.   BAN focused on whether a literally anecdotal percentage of Intercon's material was sold to - a person of color.  The story was not about what the material was - cell phones for repair?  laptop batteries?  LCDs? Nor about the capability of the person buying it.   It was about whether the containerload originated at Intercon, and what nationality the buyers were.  The only important thing was whether 1% of something was sold to a person in China.

Three Interviews with Yadji Moussa about Cameroon, Africa, and "e-waste"

These are pretty unprofessional, unedited, videos interviewing our departed friend from Cameroon, Yadji Moussa.   I'm working today on getting some photos together for the service on Friday.  Yadji's kids, Innah and Adam, will be coming from Michigan.

The service will be held at the Memorial Baptist Church, between Pleasant St. and Court St (Rt 7) near the Middlebury green.    Friday, July 6, 6:45PM