To those of you forwarding the emails announcing that importers are "pushing back" on the finger-pointing watchdogs, the answer is yes. Though the words "behind it" have many meanings.
We stand behind the importers. The geeks of color in Africa, South America, and Asia who have been labelled "mostly primitive" in their importation of an ill-defined word "e-waste". The technicians who know more about capacitors than we do, who are asked for "proof" and "evidence" that they are not burning the computers they carefully spec'd out, flew to the EU, Canada and USA, and paid good money for.
"Refurbishing of EEE and the sales of used EEE is an important economic sector (e.g. Alaba market in Lagos). It is a well-organized and a dynamic sector that holds the potential for further industrial development. Indirectly, the sector has another important economic role, as it supplies low and middle income households with affordable ICT equipment and other EEE. In the view of the sector’s positive socio-economic performance, all policy measures aiming to improve e-waste management in Nigeria should refrain from undifferentiated banning of second-hand imports and refurbishing activities and strive for a co-operative approach by including the market and sector associations." - UNEP Study 2012
"I am very satisfied with the quality of the UNEP studies. I know well the authors and have worked with them and discussed findings with them." - Jim Puckett, Executive Director, BAN.orgWe have focused on the source of the presumption of guilt, that dirty little secret circulated by Basel Action Network. Repeated by SVTC and ETBC and Greenpeace. No doubt believed by many who trust their eyes when Jim Puckett shows them photographs, rather than their heads.
When a city like Lagos has six million households with televisions, it has many environmental problems. Disposing of its own "ewaste" is one of those problems. Fair Trade Recycling is an attempt to finance solutions by empowering the technicians who import used equipment with the tools to take back tomorrow's junk, and the methods to recycle it responsibly.
Sign a letter, or sign a petition. Tell BAN, ETBC, and Greenpeace to "Cease and Desist".
|Profiled Importers Need a Cousin Vinny|
The kids at dumps, and toxics from burning electronics, are not a hoax. The problem is real. But the 41 African export businesses arrested in the past 12 months had nothing to do with it. If BAN's statistics don't fit, we must acquit.
Whether or not there ever was an "ewaste import" problem in Nigeria or not, Africa can look forward to the same future as India and China - two other nations which NEVER imported used CRT televisions. And two nations full of photographic images of E-Waste TVs. India has "green fence" on used CRTs which, the same as China's, was designed as a non-tariff barrier to protect its domestic CRT manufacturing industry. What hath we unwrought by arresting importers? Nada.
India and China and Latin America are improving, growing wealthier, and the increase in wealth brings about first world problems. Author Adam Minter showed the scale of China's CRT TV generation earlier this year. India has had TV since 1959, regular broadcasts since 1965. Over half India's households own televisions. India is home to Videocon the largest manufacturer of new cathode ray tubes, and largest end market for USA's CRT Cullet.
And guess what? India TV is going digital. That's right, the same "rabbit ear" obsolescence program which was blamed on USA's turnover of bulky CRT TVs (actually triggered more by falling prices of fashionable flat LCDs) is coming to a billion-population Asian nation near you. [wikipedia 2013.06.22]
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a notification on 11 November 2011, setting 31 March 2015 as the deadline for complete shift from analog to digital systems. In December 2011, Parliament passed The Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Act to digitize the cable television sector by 2014. Digitization, on cable and terrestrial, will be carried out in four phases, in a 3-year transition starting from 31 October 2012, and finishing on 31 March 2015. The four metros of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai have to shift to digital addressability by 31 October 2012. The second phase will include 38 cities in 15 states, such as Patna, Chandigarh, Pune and Bangalore by 31 March 2013. All urban areas are expected to digitize by 30 November 2014 and the remaining areas by 31 March 2015.There's really nothing to the used TV story which doesn't follow other technology transfers. Take old automobiles, for example. They contain oil, gas, leaded batteries, freon, coolant, and even electronics. And if you want to experience a real traffic jam, you need to visit Mumbai, Lagos, or Shanghai. The scale of oil changes alone dwarfs all the e-waste ever exported to all nations over all recorded history. India's blogger Anumakonda Jagadeesh, has a trove of photos of Indians processing the e-waste, and a-waste, or other Indians, and like Adam Minter, doesn't find importer fingerprints on any of the junk TV sets. Why should Nigeria be different than China and India?
Can we apply the BAN E-Steward Solution to solve the automobile waste problem? Arrest people who buy cars, trucks, and ambulances for Africa's consumer market? LOL. Interpol could add the importation of cars, appliances, air conditioners, cell phones, etc to the "back to Eden" goal, and make the Europeans feel safe in their centuries of guilt for colonization... "Put Africa back the way we found it". But it would not create alternatives to coltan mining, ivory poaching, bushmeat hunting, sex trade, terrorism, and other true crime, and Africa will have e-waste no matter how many internet cafe entrepreneurs Interpol puts in chains.
|NCAA Athlete Class Action Suit Analogy|
And it will be easy enough to impanel a jury to acquit those accused of "reuse excuse", or "poisoning children". By attracting millionaires to its board of directors, and shaking down "e-Steward" companies for thousands of dollars to vouch as experts on their behalves, BAN has finally made itself a suitable target for a suit. It is not enough to say in the comment field of a Bloomberg editorial that they "never said 80%". They did. When they said they didn't say it, the emperor lost every stitch of credibility they ever earned with photos of African kids at African dumps.
The money raised on the photos of Pieter Hugo will finally, finally find its way back in the hands of Africans. BAN is going to settle this once and for all. If you see the email, contact us. You know the ones we are talking about. It took an avowed non-exporting "E-Steward", Brian Brundage of Intercon, who never exported CRTs, who spent thousands tearing them apart and joining BAN's defamation of African and Asian importers, to finally break the ice. Intercon Solutions found themselves in a contract with a habitual accuser. And Intercon brings what America does best to the center stage. Planned obsolescence and lawyers.
Our culture of law and lawyers smells blood in the water. People who defend the accused are learning the "dirty little secret" about Basel Action Network's "expertise" in computer exports. Companies in the anti-gray market alliance should watch carefully how BAN turned on Intercon, and look at the camera in Pucketts hand, and listen to how quickly Electronic Takeback Campaign and Stewards focus on the pile of CRT cullet found on the ground here in the USA... the cullet from the real obsolete CRTs, which Africans never wanted to import, a pile made so big by the shredding of even working equipment that it glutted the markets for the glass. BAN created the pile with a campaign funded by Big Electronics, and BAN is salivating at the prospects of shaking Big E for more.
The time has come for Africa to shake loose the accuser. The accuser is already turning its sites on bigger prey. The import business in Africa was never as bad as BAN.org claimed, and now we have the proof.
Sign a letter, or sign a petition.
Tell BAN, ETBC, and Greenpeace to "Cease and Desist".
Free at last, free at last, thank God the techs will be free at last.
|Indonesia CRT Refurbishing Factory|
Read the article. Jim Puckett comments on a UNEP a study that clearly shows India, which has no imports of CRT televisions whatsoever, is generating its own electronic junk. He tries to make the story about Indonesia, which he had just told the press was importing used TVs to dump for primitive recycling.
The Indonesian company he accused had about 1,000 employees and had just hired David Cauchi of Closed Loop Recycling (one of USA's largest CRT glass processors) to manage fallout and also takeback of Indonesian CRTs for processing. The photo above shows the Indonesian refurbishing factory business, which Puckett describes as "hand stack" operation (yes, they do purchase hand stacked CRT monitors, because more fit in the container that way, and the CRTs don't break). Read the UNEP Study, read the article, read how the ew-waste found all over India was generated by Indians, and read how BAN used confusion over e-waste generated in India to impugn a company which was properly refurbishing CRTs in Indonesia.
The Swiss UNEP study, ironically, advocates that India, one of the top metals engineering countries, ship its most valuable components - the printed circuit boards - back to Europe. We are fine with India taking most of the USA and Europe's CRT cullet, leaded cullet worth pennies a ton, thank you. Just be so kind as to send back the circuit boards, which are worth about $5 per pound.
Cease and desist.
The study predicted that mobile phone waste in China would be about seven times higher than 2007 levels by 2020, while in India it would be about 18 times higher.
The report advocated transporting some e-waste, such as circuit boards and batteries, from poorer countries to OECD-level countries better equipped to dispose of them properly.
Indonesian environment minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said in a speech on Monday that Indonesia was vulnerable to illegal trafficking in hazardous waste.
Jim Puckett from the U.S.-based NGO Basel Action Network, which tracks illegal trafficking in e-waste, said Indonesian authorities recently discovered a shipment of nine 40-foot shipping containers of e-waste that had been sent from the U.S. state of Massachusetts.
"They were full of hand-stacked cathode ray tubes, computer monitors, basically. It was old junk that people wanted to get rid of because everyone wants flat-screens now," he said.
He said Indonesian authorities sent the shipment back.
If properly managed, though, e-waste represented a business opportunity, said Konrad Osterwalder, rector of the United Nations University.
"This report outlines smart new technologies and mechanisms which, combined with national and international policies, can transform waste into assets, creating new businesses with decent green jobs.
"In the process, countries can help cut pollution linked with mining and manufacturing, and with the disposal of old devices," he said.