Fair Trade Recycling Announces Agreement with RE:Solve (Resolv.org)

Mobilizing Information about Fair Trade Recycling Standards in Used Electronics

WR3A.org, dba Fair Trade Recycling, is soliciting donations from members and supporters to fund the transition of our NGO to a venue in Washington DC.  The outcome will be a mature, responsible, diplomatic organization which is better able to defend the best practices in recycling, and to defend them and those who practice them from thinly veiled accusations of exploitation and other "dirty little secrets".

WR3A is changing, but it's not going away.  We are going into a new phase of the organization's development.   The message of Fair Trade Recycling is moving out of Vermont, to Washington, DC.  We are mobilizing the message about fair trade recycling.

Fair Trade Recycling is joining the Solutions Network at Resolve.

Below are three other projects housed at ReSolve's Solutions-Network.


In September of 2012, the Conflict-Free Tin Initiative was announced by Industry partners convened by the Dutch government. The Conflict-Free Tin Initiative project intends to start a conflict-free tin sourcing program in South Kivu, an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The initiative pilots new tracking and tracing procedures to ensure the conflict-free status of the supply chain. Following the conflict-free testing phase of the pilot, the initiative will address other mine-site sustainability issues. View project


The Conflict-Free Smelters (CFS) Program of the Electronics Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and Global E-Sustainability Initiative (GeSI) seeks to end supply chain support for the sale of illicit minerals from Eastern DRC and the surrounding region.  As smelters/refiners (smelters) build systems and demonstrate compliance with the provisions of the EICC-GeSI Conflict-Free Smelter (CFS) Program, they may encounter transition or start-up costs associated with participation in the program.  It is recognized that these costs may be most significant to small and medium smelting enterprises.  The CFS Early-Adopters Fund is designed to offer smelters an extra incentive for early participation by helping to offset these transitional costs. View project


In July of 2011, the Solutions for Hope Project was announced by Motorola Solutions Inc., a leading manufacturer of mission critical public safety and enterprise wide communications equipment and AVX Corporation, a leading tantalum capacitor manufacture. The ‘Solutions for Hope Project’ was launched as a pilot initiative to source conflict-free tantalum from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Tantalum is a metal used in capacitors for electronic products and is derived from the mineral coltan, which is in rich supply in the DRC. View project

About the Resolve, Memorial University, and WR3A Project:

The fair trade recycling idea came out of recycling businesses who didn't want to lose their relationships with export markets, many of whom we considered friends and colleagues, as "no export" message grew inside the recycling community.  Initially, WR3A.org was simply a consortium of import and export businesses who wanted to promote their own practices, and to find a middle ground for US export policy.

The anti-export message intensified, however.  Some WR3A members became less willing to publicly embrace the association, as anti-export standards (e-Stewards) were becoming institutionalized.  Export markets were singled out and made examples of. Some of us became more pointed in our defense, and I've been accused of being too militant in this blog.   It has been a dark 4 years.

Fortunately, there are thousands and thousands of international students from all over the world, attending university on several continents.  Thousands are studying environmental policy, and assessing development of emerging markets.  Higher education is leading a fascinating charge into the grey markets and urban jungles of secondary markets, raw material preservation, and trade.

What we hope Fair Trade Recycling will achieve, through both the alliance with REsolve and the participation of research universities (Memorial U, PC University de Peru, USC grant) is to bring a balanced message, representing the plurality (majority?) view about recycling and repair of used electronics.   The current "common knowledge" about exports of used electronics is unscientific, and its sensationalization (using child photos) has had sad consequences.   

We want to make export safe to talk about.

"A Network of Tinkerers" is a history of Japan by Yuzo Takahashi which profiles the positive development story of poor nations which have no "resource curse", but which use imports of repairable and refurbishable technology (as Japan did with boats, victrolas, and auto engines from USA scrap yards 75--100 ago).  Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and certain urban centers (Sao Paulo, Guangzhou) in very large nations trace a very healthy story of development using "urban mining", especially for repair and refurbishment, from rich nations.  Reuse, Repair and Recycling are the opposite of the Curse of Natural Resources.

There is also a wealth of papers written in academia on other subjects which have been lost in trade news.   Research into the intellectual property rights claims made against contract re-manufacturing (Fuji vs. Jazz camera, Lexmark vs. AZ Cartridge Remanufacturers Association) and other patent extension claims threatening "first use" precedents in the USA (see EFF.org) have attracted a very large academic following.  There is a large, sophisticated, intellectual group of people who are interested in the positive environmental and developmental role of exports of used technology overseas.

Our goal with Resolve is to create an entity to "house" both the pro-active international recycling infrastructure development goals of Fair Trade Recycling, and the WR3A role of "anti-defamation" vs. entrepreneurs in developing nations who are caught in the cross fire of planned obsolescence and environmental watchdogs response to the resulting waste.

I have written a lot more this morning, but will keep the announcement simple for now. Gving Memorial U, USC, PCU Peru, Thunderbird, MIT, Middlebury College and others a more a-political FairTradeRecycling organization to correspond with does not mean I'm setting down my rifle or my typewriter.   It's possible to be a strong environmentalist and an enthusiastic exporter.   But I cannot continue to fund this with $20K per year from my own company, its neither sustainable for my $2.9M operations nor does it bring the objectiveness that we need to bring to the Fair Trade Recycling message.


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