Orange Laws: Illegal Recycling?

Front CoverI've written already about "orange laws", so I will make this quick.

China can ban the color orange.    They can arrest people for wearing orange.  There was a threat to silently protest Tianaman Square during the Olympics in 2008 by telling everyone in the crowd to wear orange.  People honestly thought they'd be arrested...

China is a sovereign, they can make laws and we cannot change them.  However, it's a mistake to incorporate a CHINA law into USA export law.  

R2 Draft 2013 commits this error, by saying that any export must be legal in both countries.   They should say any WASTE product.  China can (and does) outlaw tested working Pentium 4, 2 week old, laptops to be imported used.  It's a protectionist law which is actually illegal under the WTO (China agreed to the Doha Round eliminating protectionism against fully functional and cores).

If the USA simply says "if it's illegal in China, it's not allowed", and then a state like Vermont incorporates (mandates) R2, then it becomes a criminal act for me in Vermont to sell an orange shirt to China... or a fully functional laptop.

Or used books...

Exporting for Dummies
Or printed recycled paper.

Because China bans distribution of a lot of things in writing.

And I cannot go through every book in this lot, sold on Alibaba, to see if there's a copy of the Dalai Lama's book in there.   Its a 43,000 lb. lot.  If His Holiness the Dalai Lama's book is in there, I have violated China's laws, and therefore can be arrested for violating R2, which is Vermont law...


Another "Poverty Porn" Parody

These are coming out so quickly now.   I think this is a movement.  As the NPR article reports, the reactions against "poverty porn", "parasites of the poor", "accidental racism" and "boycotts of geeks of color" are not something I'm making up.

I have heard the frustrating cries from the technicians in Asia, Africa, and South America for over a decade.

This video parody shows Africans coming together, a la "We are the World", to donate radiators to poor freezing Norwegian children.   The way Norway is presented does have a grain of truth... it is indeed cold there, and the cold is something that would really seem frightening to Africans.  But they hit the out-of-context, Onion-esque, clueless notes that anti-export organizations don't seem aware of...



At FastCoExist.com, Ariel Schwartz and Nathaniel Whittenmore describe some of the same lessons I thought we learned in the 1960s, about "poster child syndrome" (the UNICEF campaign).  From Ariel's article:
"Guilt-tripping is still a commonly used tactic in trying to get people to donate money for the impoverished, though it is slowly being replaced by more hopeful messages from organizations like Mama Hope and Pencils of Promise. Nathaniel Whittemore explains in a Co.Exist post from earlier this year that this is strategic: "It supposes that after decades of being battered over the head by relief organizations flaunting horror images, there’s not much left but table scraps in the guilt bucket," he writes.
Fair Trade Recycling is a movement to recognize the crazy good things about repair and trade and even recycling in the emerging markets.   I could never have predicted the animosity directed towards technicians and recyclers in emerging markets, promoted by the very people I hung out with in college.  Remember the "boycott" of Fair Trade Cotton at Victoria's secret?

E-Waste Poster Children are everywhere.

I'm still working on the individual examples for the "legal malpractice" case.  It's just something I want to be very careful with, something that has to be done right.

More from the NPR article about the video, below.
"The video is humorous, but there is a serious message.  The point is that images of helpless Africans are just as inaccurate as the idea of helpless freezing Norwegians.   A lot of Africans cannot relate to the patronizing videos and development initiatives."
"The organization says it has certain goals with the video. "
"Among them that fundraising "should not be based on exploiting stereotypes" and that media should have more respect in portraying suffering children."

BREAKING NEWS: E-Stewards Recognizes Mexico!

AND NOW (DRUMROLL) THE "e-WASTE" STATISTIC IS "OFTEN"!!!!


Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!


READ BAN.ORG'S PRESS RELEASE FROM THIS MORNING (HIGHLIGHTS IN RED)


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.

THE MONEY GOES TO THE PEOPLE IN MEXICO.

We didn't pick this fight, but...
WE WON'T BE E-STEWARDS PUPPETS!!!!!

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.

Environmental Malpractice Part 4: Poverty Porn

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


So at our meeting in Vegas, Jim Puckett made the case that the world will be better if we all obey "international law", and that defamation of technicians, and closure of sustainable repair and reuse factories, is acceptable "collateral damage".  Jim presents himself, again and again, as an authority on Basel Convention.

The use of international treaties to simultaneously protect the 6 billion people in "non-OECD" nations from ... bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...  and the same time generate millions of well-intentioned dollars for a Seattle non-profit... This is not BAN.org's invention.  Poverty Porn has been around for decades.

Since my days studying international development at Carleton College, and as both a volunteer and employee (cross-culture trainer) for Peace Corps Africa, we've been aware of the "poster child" syndrome.  Here's a recent editorial on "Poverty Porn" by Nathaniel Whittemore at Co.Exist  (and here's a film from an admittedly donation-based organization in Africa, MamaHope.org, which does at least give hope for a different message).


The Hollywood and not-for-profit-Guilt-Industrial-Complex are really nice people to hang around with, as Jim and Mike both were in Vegas.  They are nicer people than I am.   Calling them accidental racists or ayatollahs of #ewaste was a decent into frustration.    If we are to turn them around, we need to first get their attention (which I've done) but then to find an alternative to the touchy word "racism".

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.

Astounding.

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.

Environmental Malpractice, Part II: Accidental Racism

In Part I, "Due Disclosure", I asked BAN to come out on the record about the exaggerated mathematics about "e-waste exports".  Those fake numbers create false perceptions about importers, and wreck the reputations and finances of many "Geeks of Color" in the developing world.

PT Imtech, Medi-Com, and Joseph Benson are three solid examples of people who were doing fantastic things with "discarded" electronics they purchased from wealthy countries for elective upgrade and refurbishment.  They were arrested, or their goods seized.  In Vegas, Jim Puckett described this as "collateral damage."

In Part III, I will go into specific cases of this "collateral damage", where an importer or a market was unfairly characterized in the Western Press. 

"Recycling Safari" has become a perverse form of "waste eco-tourism".  Liberal activists go straight to the "source" of poverty, and declare "I was there".  It impresses millions who are at a comfortable distance from poverty.  But if you live near poverty for a long time, your eyes adjust.  Some things associated with poverty include hope.  You will find poverty aggregating around reuse, repair, resale, and recycling the way people in a deep well are gathered around a ladder.  Proximity of a solution to a problem... it's a crazy weird thing to raise money to attack.

Let's attack something we all agree about, anti-globalists, alter-globalists, and globalists alike.

Racism.

TIME OUT: Free the Geeks! Release E-Stewards Rules!

In reviewing Parts 2 and 3 of the essay "Environmental Malpractice", I'm a bit stumped... because I don't know what the "Practice" E-Stewards requires actually IS.

E-Stewards markets itself as being superior to R2.  But R2, the Responsible Recycling standard developed by environmental organizations and EPA, is PUBLIC.  They have their document up for 2013 compliance changes, and are soliciting comments this month.

There is no similar public comment period for the E-Stewards Standards, and in fact you have to pay them money to see the rules, and agree not to republish them.   "Licensing" the path to goodness, it's a remarkable cause.  It's kinda now, kinda wow, kinda 1400 AD.  Just which "Madonna" are we talking about?

If there is a way to heaven, and you demand donations to tell the secrets that will free me from hell, just how noble is your cause?

FREE THE GEEKS!!!!!!!!!!

UPDATE:  Following this publication, we received news that Joseph Benson settled his case, after 3 years defending himself in court, for 11,000 British pounds.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/owners-and-employees-of-a-string-of-waste-disposal-companies-fined-over-200000-for-exporting-dumped-electronics-to-the-developing-world-8386688.html

Environmental Malpractice, Part I: Due Disclosures

[Note:  Last week I had initial meetings at the IQPC "E-Waste Summit" at Caesar's Palace with Jim Puckett and Mike Enberg of BAN.  We had a chance to try to clear the air a bit following the infamous Donald Summers blistering of "fair trade recycling" at Chicago Patch, Jim's equivocation of fair trade recycling and "poisoning people" in E-Scrap News, the effect of fake math on real people in the developing world, and the collapse of the California Compromise.    They in turn shared their genuine hurt over insinuations of racial profiling and accusations of financial motives, via my blog.   I need to treat that carefully, but have already cut this post into 3 parts after writing on the redeye from Phoenix.  It is hard to find the time to write this as carefully as it demands, but also vital to strike while the iron is hot... ]

First things first: The study of holistic environmental health parallels the evolution of the human health sciences.   Species diversity, carbon, toxics, ecosystems, sustainable consumption, over-population, etc. connect in ways we must study in order to understand them.  Western medicine has made monumental strides, but on the way to discovering a cure for AIDS and smallpox, we went through waste-centric periods of giving tapeworms for weight control, and liquid mercury as a laxative.

Western medicine grew up by making mistakes, discovering them, and admitting to them.  It has developed certain principles, like primum non nocere "first, do no harm".   But when well-meaning doctors accidentally do harm their patients, we don't call accuse them of "racism" or "poisoning people".  We have another more professional term.
"In lawmalpractice is a type of negligence in which the professional under a duty to act fails to follow generally accepted professional standards, and that breach of duty is the proximate cause of injury to a plaintiff who suffers harm. It is committed by a professional or her/his subordinates or agents on behalf of a client or patient that causes damages to the client or patient."
-wikipedia 2012.11.16

Basel Action Network and Fair Trade Recycling offer different remedies to imbalances in the trade of used electronics.   Junk exports, or "toxics along for the ride", can happen either because a shortage is created (California SB20) or because of over-supply, or changes in prices of new product.  It is not the intention of the "E-Steward" to create a shortage, nor the intention of ISRI's overseas clients to pay for shipping of useless material.  We both agree that improvements can be made which will help the people in the developing world, emerging world, or non-OECD.  

It's not a major concession on my part to swap the word "malpractice" for "accidental racism".  E-Stewards / BAN really want to be treated deferentially, as environmentalists, as watchdogs, as protectors of the poor, not "parasites of the poor".   But here is why I think it's a step forward:  Malpractice insurance is something well-intentioned health professionals need in case of an accident.

One of the first tests in court to differentiate accidental malpractice (unintentional harm) from criminal malpractice is how quickly the do-gooder responds to the mistake.   If a doctor takes a follow up X-Ray and sees she left a surgical tool in your belly and has to re-open the abdomen to fetch it, it's a lot worse if she pretends not to see it or refuses to review the x-ray.

Facts is facts.   It is time for BAN to give Due Disclosure about their "export statistics".

BAN may be excused for using the statistics "80%" a few years ago, and could say there wasn't good information.  They may have missed their own 2006 researcher's paper from Kenya, estimating 90% reuse.  They may have been skeptical of the paper by Williams and Kahhat, showing 87% reuse in Peru imports.  They may not accept my experience in estimating acceptable fallout when the cost of shipping to African ports is over $7000 - In Monkeys Running Environmental Zoo article, we calculated 85% reuse based on prices paid for product and shipping.  And they have loudly objected to the reports by ISRI and IDC that over 80% of used electronics are treated in the USA prior to export.

But a year ago, in 2011, the United Nations Environmental Program and the Basel Secretariat issued studies from in depth research (279 sea containers, following exports from Nigerian Joseph Benson from London to Lagos), and found - again - that 70% of the imports were fully functional, and half of the rest (15%) were repaired and reused.   That makes FIVE reports which estimate that between 80-90% of the used electronics purchased by Africans were legitimate.

Distracted from the Real Environmental Criminals

On my way to Retroworks de Mexico, I happened on a Discovery Channel show (#trivia - on the back of the middle seat on JetBlue, the only unoccupied seat on the plane, I was at window 20F, which doesn't have a working TV on JetBlue flight 179, flier beware.  But I could watch Discovery Channel on the middle seat).  Jungle Gold. its finally captured the ugliness which e-waste recycling debate distracts our environmental community away from.

In Ghana Africa, we see "the real criminals", or the bad environmental activity we export.   Bankrupt California boys, Catepillar tractors, Mercury, guns, and a toxic extraction process allowed by the mineral policies we exported, policies developed during the Apache Indian wars in the western USA... all in an easy to watch "Survivor-like" reality documentary.

At the end of the Jungle Gold episode (different from the one linked above, I couldn't find it), the two American lads  George Wright and Scott Lomu are deep in debt.  The last scene focuses on the worst environmental act performed in Ghana.  Gold mining, and the extraction of the gold from clay (not the same as panning for specks) with highly toxic liquid mercury.

The Americans don't do the dangerous part themselves, they let an African man use the mercury to soak up the gold into a ball, wrapped in a cloth, and burned off (mercury vaporizes) into the atmosphere.  One of the Americans actually talks about how difficult it is, watching his coworker posion himself, and says that someday he hopes to buy a centrifuge for the guy.  Right.

The mercury itself comes from America.    It is imported from Recycling Programs for mercury lamps in places like Vermont, where lamps are sent for retort and the mercury is exported to miners in Africa.  Recycled mercury is virtually the onlly source of mercury, it's almost impossible to find a mercury mine, because the environmental net on waste disposal is so efficient.

Export Bans and  Reducing Mercury Consumption in Artisanal and Small Scale Gold Mining

is a presentation by Kevin Telmer, University of Victoria
GEF/UNDP/UNIDO Global Mercury Project

An export ban that actually makes sense.  While we are at it, let's ban the export of dumbasses.

Fair Trade Recycling Challenge to University of Washington

Nailing shut the case for fair trade recycling of used electronics ("e-Waste").

We finally got this translated, thanks to Middlebury College faculty and alumns.



I'm working on getting a better quality copy.  It's nice to finally see the subtitles of the interviews with 'Batman and Robin'.
"...This combination of white guilt, and white paternalism...  And that the more I got to know these "Geeks of Color", these technicians, the more I realized - these guys are not only 'not doing anything wrong' - but they are actually the very best hope that these countries have."
MIT, Memorial University, Arizona State, Middlebury College, UVM, Champlain College, University of Arizona, University of Peru PC, University of Amsterdam, Universite Paul Cezanne, Cornell, Boston College...   Everyone looking into this finds that we are telling the truth, and that Basel Action Network is the one "dumping" (false accusations and defamation) on the poor.

They are parasites of the poor, and cowards for not responding to any of this.  The universities will be calling and asking questions about the 80%.  We have opened our doors.  We have nothing to hide, we have made mistakes and we are going to show them.  We do not pretend to be what we are not, and do not pretend to do things we cannot do.  If we take the pictures of Africans, we give them a name and a say.  Primitive?  You disgust me for using that term to describe A+ technicians replacing faulty capacitors, or original design manufacturers who own the patent on your touchscreen device.

DISGUST.   Basel Action Network is taking down reputable environmental organizations like Greenpeace and NRDC in their black hole of niggardly defamation.  They have had more than three years to respond to the false arrests/accusations of PT Imtech and Joseph Benson.

For the opinion to the contrary, I urge you to contact the University of Washington, and ask why they have joined a boycott of the Geeks of Color, and why they did not get a peer review from universities on the East and West Coasts who have listened to both sides and chosen Fair Trade Recycling as a standard.

Alex Credgington
University of Washington, Communications Manager
206-616-3412
ecredgin@uw.edu

Alex, if you want to meet the Chicas and tour our plant in Mexico, give me a jingle. For more background on the case why exports should not be defamed, read this piece in Motherboard, "Why We Should Ship our Electronic "Waste" to China and Africa".

We would love to have University of Washington's best scholars join the team, look inside, and tell us why we are wrong.   I challenge you to take your surplus materials, divide them into two equal piles, and we will draw straws.  Send one half to Total Reclaim (a friend and E-Steward), and one half to our Fair Trade Recycling partners at InterConnection in Seattle, allowing product to go to Retroworks de Mexico.

I have nothing to hide.  And I trust Charles at Interconnection and Jeff and Craig at Total Reclaim.  Do a whole mass balance, and see where the monitors, TVs, PCs, and hard drives wind up.   Memorial University may have funding to film the entire process, film the two loads, and escort them.  Oh, and Retroworks de Mexico, while it's in the poorest area of Sonora, IS IN AN OECD COUNTRY.   So no, it will not violate "international law" and whoever told you that... well, like I said, let's have a little "PEER REVIEW".

In 2013 I will close the case.  E-Stewards will either change, change management, change message, or go down in history as a racist, xenophobic period of environmentalist history.

My mom in the Ozarks described the first interracial marriage I heard about this way.

"She's very brave."

She must love him very much to marry despite the southern recoil that surrounded interacial marriage in the 1960s.    I am only brave enough to trade.

I don't want to speak on behalf of any of the researchers from any of the universities.  I just want to change the presumption of guilt, and protesting innocence and opening doors seems like the best way to go about that.   If the University of Washington wants to bring a camera and ask BAN what they should be aiming the camera at, that's fine by us.   We dropped our bucket where it was, and will lift as we climb.


Status of Retroworks de Mexico

Can E-Stewards identify these parts in a computer?  Hand dis-assembly of CDROM drives yields motors, lasers



1110001011000111000101010001

I opened the partnership in Sonora Mexico in 2007, establishing a "maquila dora" company, managed by a women's collective.  Next week I will be travelling there to meet with researchers from Memorial University of Newfoundland, who have won a $469,000 five year grant to vet "fair trade recycling", using RDM as a model.

We will also have a WR3A Board meeting in Phoenix at the Refurbishers Summit, I will post a link.  In the past I was able to edit and post drafts waiting in the draft box during my early hotel mornings, and I have several that I enjoy despite awkward interruptions in the writing process.



The November issue of Scrap Magazine will have some photos of our first trial of CRT cullet (generated in Mexico) used as a fluxing agent at the local mining smelter; we have shipped two loads, and it looks promising.

Legalize it + Tax it + Regulate it = Profit!

My pick last year was 2018 for a nationwide reform of marijuana  laws.   I don't smoke it, I just don't want to pay the taxes to fund a war on it.  I would rather see it sold like liquor, regulated, and taxed for revenues.  We can help end the deficit by taxing cannabis sales.

Colorado, Washington are ahead of the slow and stupid curve.

Who is the biggest loser if we do that?  Drug cartels.  Just like Capone was the biggest loser at the end of prohibition.

{Postscript:  CNN published the editorial by Roger A. Roffman the same hours that I published this.   Great minds think alike.  My role in the topic is based on my affiliation with our plant in Mexico.  As the Economist notes, America's Prohibition 2.0 on Marijuana costs lives there.}

"E-Waste" Policy: NGOs Living in an RCA World

"A broken calendar is not as good as a broken clock." - Robin Ingenthron
RCA Emblem - Nipper ponders Obsoete Victrola Waste Stream
Catching up with electronics trade publication reading.  In Slashdot, I saw this article about the possible deathbed watch for Sharp Electronics.  Sharp is still a big producer in the display device field.   From ComputerWorld:
"Japan's Sharp, a major supplier of LCD displays to Apple and other manufacturers, has warned that it may not survive if it can't turn around its business, an admission that caught few off guard.
"The Osaka-based manufacture said there is "material doubt" about its ability to continue operating in its earnings report filed Thursday. Sharp added, however, that it still believes it can cut costs and secure enough credit to survive. Its IGZO technology for mobile displays is likely to be a key element of its business strategy.
"Companies with credit trouble must warn about possible concerns over their survival as part of their disclosure requirements."
Intelligent observers generalize on the decline of Japanese "Big E" - Sony, LG, Sharp, Panasonic, etc., and the rise of Samsung and Korea.  Korea is feeling its oats, in car production and electronics and music.  But how significant is this?  Time for a history lesson on Japanese and American transistor manufacturing.

My Life In Footnotes: Value Added Recycling Jobs '92

"Value Added by Recycling Industries in Massachusetts" was an article I published in July 1992, in my first few months of my appointment as "Recycling Director" at Massachusetts DEP.  Footnotes to the report live on, and I feel sure I must have a hard copy somewhere, but I cannot find it online any longer.

Drive around the parking lots of your competitors.

Count the cars.

Use the cars to estimate the number of employees.

Some staff may be absent, some may have carpooled, some processors may be more efficient than others. But generally, if you circle 100 paper recyclers parking lots, the ones with just a few cars are less likely to be baling the same amount of material.  The larger ones will actually bale more per employee or more per car perhaps (due to larger, higher efficiency balers), and the smaller ones may employ more people per ton.  But you have a point of reference.

Blog Maintenance - Searching for the Poison Pill

UPDATE:  After a couple of hours I found the "Search Engine Genie" XSS (cross site scripting) in the PAGERANK button at bottom (er.. formerly at the bottom, it's erased now).   I have a headache from reading HTML now but hopefully this puts us back in business without (ironically) punishing our pagerank.  The lesson learned in this case is not to borrow Gadget Script from third parties.  What is interesting is that the pagerank button was there for a long, long time before I got this warning.  

Dear readers, please be patient while we try to find the source of a report that an unsafe link has been found in one of the blogs.  There are a lot of comments and a lot of postings to screen through and it may take time.   This site may be taken down for several hours or days if we find the "search engine genie" hijacker is actually found here.

The good old days of letting any person comment with any link, or using links to other sites which may change ownership and become "link poison" years later, may be over.  Or this may be a false flag.  If I link to a site that I disagree with, I think of it as being transparent, but it also means that if the owner of the site I link to wants to get back at me, they can insert something at the link which poisons my blog on google.