CAER is Wrong About E-Waste. Nice, Just Wrong.

Coalition For American Electronics Recycling (CAER) writes:

"We believe that currently about 80% of electronics claimed to be recycled in the US are really just “packed and stacked” into shipping containers and exported.  Aggregators of used electronics work through brokers to ship equipment overseas and get paid pennies per pound for this mixed assortment of electronics. We see solicitations from these brokers all the time.
"If this bill [HR2284] passes, we don’t expect it will completely shut off improper exports of used electronics, but we contend it will flip the equation so that 80% of electronics are processed in the US. Based on our experience, we create at least 7 jobs in refurbishment, demanufacturing or material processing for every job involved in packing and stacking electronics for export. This would lead to tremendous growth in the American electronics recycling industry through existing and new businesses.

CAER is full of good companies.  I'm not attacking those companies, I'm defending my friends overseas from their defamatory statements.  Just want to explain why these statements, on their website, are mistaken.

Since new e-waste blogger JHop has thrown his hat in the ring (comment on CAER report blog from January), we now have dialog.

The two paragraphs above are full of misinformation.  Perhaps, with the qualifier, "We believe", they can say whatever they want.  But no one in our business can really believe this.  No E-Waste Broker Fairy is transporting 80% of USA's used electronics in "stack and pack through brokers".

Impossible.  Here's why:

What is the #1 component of E-Waste collected in USA Programs?

TVs.  Big CRT TVs.

Show me a "stack and pack" operation exporting a significant number of TVs.   There is NO WAY that you can achieve 80% of USA E-waste "stack and pack" without the massive deportation of used televsions.  EPA says we are generating 50,000 used TVs per day.   That's about 100 containerloads per day... 80% is 80 sea containerloads per day, of JUST TVs.

No one at,,, etc. is "packing or stacking" a significant number of USA's TVs.   I know of 2-3 used television buyers, but they are not buying 80% of USA e-waste, and they are pretty small operations and very particular of the TVs they buy.  The ones in Africa generally want very small TVs only (like the ones in Gentleman Jim's photo of Joseph Benson's containers), or very nice (e.g. hotel-takeout) TVs like the ones shrinkwrapped in the Greenpeace video.   AND NOW THEY CAN BUY THOSE USED CRT TVs FROM ASIA!  The USA isn't even a major export player anymore.

There was one very large and very reputable TV size CRT refurbisher, in Semarang Indonesia, and defamation killed it in 2010.  That one imported about 10 containerloads per day, which they remanufactured into new televisions in Indonesia.  They were a competitor of my friends and I, but I've since grown to know them and will stick up for them whenever I can.

We could also share a bunch of studies (link to the most recent posted here last week) by the United Nations, EPA, US ITC, MIT, even one advised by BAN itself. ( to reports)...  But I've posted them here repeatedly.  There is no study at all, however, showing why the CAER "believes" about 80% of electronics claimed to be recycled in the USA just being "packed and stacked".

What can Coalition for American Electronics Recycling be referring to?  First, in their defense, BAN served them the same Kool-Aid they served CBS 60 Minutes, Frontline, USA Today and Fresh Air... a made up estimate of 80% circulated from one to the other press source, citing each other like a bad flu.

What was really being exported "pack and stack" at that time?  The same material shown in the 60 Minutes Hong Kong helicopter segment, which was completely missing in 60 Minutes footage of Guiyu.

They are referring to this:

Used CRT monitors for computers (15-17") exported to CRT Monitor refurbishing factories.  These are overseas, yes.  But are they "improper?"  Were they improper when they originally assembled and manufactured the monitors for IBM, Dell, HP, Gateway, etc?  They still exist, though many have switched to LCDs or closed.

I had lots of friends who worked in these places.  In the 90s, they used to make expensive TVs and monitors out of newly mined and smelted CRT glass tubes.  Now they are making affordable TVs and monitors out of used USA TVs and monitors.

The export trade isn't perfect, but when an organization promotes legislation to make trade with the overseas factories illegal, they need to explain factually to their congresspeople why 100% destruction is better than 85% reuse, and more importantly - what it is they really believe.

They should not base the legislation on 80% of USA CRT e-waste is sent to primitive packing operations - something which is, prima facia, illogical and impossible.

Their friends at BAN have moved on.  Former BAN consultant Lauren Roman of Transparent Planet has just released a report, profiled in the NY Times, which shows so many piles of CRT glass in the USA that the amount of wasted CRT glass piles, by itself, disproves the "80% primitive pack and stack" myth which is the basis of the HR2284 legislation.  If the TVs are all being exported by the TV Broker Fairy, where did the massive piles on USA ground come from?   Don't believe me?  There's film!!

You want my next witness?   Call the expert from NYTimes, Jim Puckett of BAN.  He's the expert.  Ask him to find 80% of TVs, let alone all generated e-waste, going "packed and stacked" in container, and to then explain where the NYT piles of CRT glass in the USA came from.

I spoke to him in November.  Ask him yourselves.  BAN has updated its numbers.   And where did the original 2002 estimate of 80% number come from?

He got it from Mike Magliaro of DMC back around 2002. Mike later said, via this blog, that he was including processed finished material, like bales of steel and clean plastic originating from electronics (like the bales the CAER members "stack" and "pack" into containers).  This was around the same time Jim Puckett and I were both in China, and AntiGrayMarketAlliance was trumpetting HP's donation to Chinese military to crack down on refilling of used ink cartridges in Foshan, Guangdong province.

It wasn't true then, and it's certainly not true now.  BAN has publicly withdrawn it, just as they publicly withdrew saying I "lie through my teeth" and am a "big supporter of dumping on the poor".

CAER is full of good companies.  I'm not attacking those companies, I'm defending my friends overseas from their defamatory statements... like the ones I enjoyed.

Perhaps some of the CAER may read this, via JHop, and may actually ask why they are putting their names on "statistics" that are made up, which BAN has distanced itself from, which were disproven in every study, and which they themselves probably don't even believe.

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