Breaking Good Point: At e360 Degrees

We are winning in the "big picture".   Yale's E360 (Environment 360) author Mike Ives doesn't call it "fair trade recycling", but gets researchers Josh Lepawsky, Ramzy Kahhat, Eric Williams and Nitin Gupta to voice their opinions that the "E-Waste" story needs to get corrected.
"As far as I know, there has been plenty of legislative action to ban trade and informal recycling," but insufficient action to develop alternate approaches, says Eric Williams, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology...
(Just remember all the people whose companies got closed and lost their jobs and were defamed between 2002-2012.  The contract manufacturing factories (run by former staff from Proview, BenQ, Viewsonic, Wistron and Foxconn) never really needed advice, assistance, or help from the Great White Father.  Those were most of the exports, and most of the experts.  Those companies forced closures explains why ITC found so little actual overseas shipping after 2011.)
At least the Yale Environment 360 story is on the path to a correction, a very welcome and long awaited one.  "E-Waste" is dead, long live E-Recycling.

Speaking of corrections....   Forgive me if I don't have the strength to dance.  We are winning the war, but not the battle for Vermont.   Six months after USA Today ran a story putting Good Point Recycling at the center of the export debate, we find ourselves teetering at a precipice.  "Guess I got what I deserve".

Guess that's all I have to say
Except the feeling just grows stronger every day
Just one thing before I go
Take good care, baby, let me know, let it grow... 

(Badfinger, Baby Blue)

It is crunch time at Good Point Recycling.  And by that I don't mean operation of balers.  It is time for putting exports of scrap metal and plastic and used electronics into perspective. I'm looking at the growing necessity of laying off 50% of the staff at Good Point Recycling, and have invited staff from the Vermont Department of Labor to the plant next week.   We plan to keep on fifteen positions, less than half the weekly payroll.   And that's being optimistic about the State of Vermont actually allowing us to run an independent "opt out" recycling program for manufacturers.  And optimistic that the manufacturers will get us contracts and pay for the work on a timely basis.

Vermont Department of Labor staff will come on February 13 to brief the staff on options for "job training and placement" in Vermont.   But these are blue collar, physical workers.

You Are Here.  Sparta, Vermont.  Invisible from space, and just as important.    A black hole in space for investors to sink job creation money in.

Will the firing of half our Vermont payroll enough to keep ANR happy?   Evidently not.  Below is an email sent from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (Kimberli Lutchko) yesterday.  They are going after the companies that are trying to user our Independent Opt Out Plan.  Notice how she blames Good Point Recycling for Vermont ANR's decision not to allow the Manufacturers to join the Independent Plan.

Good afternoon,

The Agency received [OEM’s] updated registration submission today, February 6, wherein the company elected to participate in the Opt-Out Plan; however,  [OEM]  is not eligible to participate in the Opt-Out Plan.

The final Agency decision was made and distributed through email correspondence sent on August 29 and 30 to MRM, CEA, Sony, and MITS, as they were the manufacturers/associations identified as applicants in the opt-out proposal.  That decision allowed member manufacturers of the aforementioned organizations to notify the Agency of their intent to participate in the opt-out plan by filing a letter with the Agency by September 6, 2013.  There were two reasons for this requirement: first, the plain language of 10 V.S.A. § 7554 requires manufacturers of covered devices to be the applicants of an opt-out plan; and second, Good Point Recycling failed to contact the above-referenced trade associations to obtain their member’s permission to be a part of the opt-out proposal application.

 [OEM]  failed to file a notice of intent with the Agency of Natural Resources on or before September 6, 2013 and is therefore not eligible to participate in the Opt-Out Program.

Please correct  [OEM] 's registration within 10 days to accurately reflect the company's participation in the State Standard Plan.  If  [OEM]  fails to correct its registration within this time, the Agency will revise  [OEM] ’s information to reflect that it is participating in the State Standard Program.

Thank you,


Description: Description: momVT

Kimberli LutchkoEnvironmental Technician
[phone]      802-522-5771

Department of Environmental Conservation
Waste Management & Prevention Division
Description: Description: vtecycles_logo_horizontal_small.gif

To preserve, enhance, restore, and conserve Vermont's natural resources, and protect human health for the benefit of this and future generations.

To be um, clear, Good Point Recycling (bolded) is admonished by ANR for failing to notify the manufacturers of the rules she made up out of thin air on August 29, citing "Oregon law", prior to her making the rule up.  Our FOIA request for that period, asking for deliberations about our Independent Plan, remains quashed (Last week ANR released back a folder on the FOIA containing nothing on the Independent Opt Out Plan but my own unanswered emails about it.  They did at least release the bid evaluation documents for their own Standard Plan, which ANR had previously frozen to FOIA requests).

Notice that the ANR never gave a public posting for their five business day deadline for all manufacturers to "pre register" for the state Independent Plan, which Good Point supposedly failed to notify them of.   The state never cited statute for the 5 day deadline, never provided the manufacturers with the rate of the state plan to compare it to, simultaneously had posted that the Independent Plan would NOT be approved (it was), and at one point actually cited "Oregon law" for the five day registration deadline.

There are many more of these letters from Lutchko, Jamieson, and Knaebel in queue to come out.  It's incredibly boring documentation, with no children seated on piles of garbage.

The Agency of Natural Resources Commissioner David Mears defends his staff's selection of Casella, and their bizarre treatment of the Independent Plan.

They doubled down this week.

What have they got to lose?  What have I got to lose?  Why does the Department put an entrepreneur into a place where they have nothing to gain by trying to stay in business?   If they succeed at putting me out of business, do they think that will quiet the criticism?  They want me to have more time on my hands, and less at risk?

That's the way denial works.

Good Point Recycling grossed $2.770,225 in 2013, and made a $24K profit.  That's in comparison to the previous year, when we brought in $2,714,400 and netted $129,000.   But the last 3 months of 2013 were a bloodbath, with the state of Vermont dodging injunctions for its treatment of the Independent Plan and state contract award, with a "change of venue" to "Environmental Court".

Unable to dispute the evidence to the Superior Court that they had awarded the contract to a less qualified, $488,000 more expensive, out of state, non-R2 certified, glass-landfilling New Hampshire vendor, ANR got the case moved to Environmental Court, which has a docket with 7 months waitlist.   I had paid approximately $100,000 to consultants and lawyers (approximately the difference between 2012 and 2013 profits), just to get a "do over" with a 7 month delay.  What Vermont ANR  has constructed is a reward system for their own bad behavior - the more appeal-able decisions they create, the longer the wait and greater the cost to appeal them.  They are calendar challenged, giving themselves months to make decisions, and demanding overseas OEMs make decisions in less than five business days.

Here's correspondence back to ANR from one of the largest electronics manufacturers in the world:

Dear Ms. Lutchko and Ms. Jamieson:     

I am writing to ask you to grant an extension of the re-registration deadline for manufacturers who are evaluating the Opt Out plan for E-Waste recycling in Vermont.

As a Manufacturer, we received confirmation of an approved Opt Out plan and materials on the Opt Out and State plans from your office late in the day on Friday, November 22, and some clarifying comments today.  You are asking for re-registration by December 1.  The Dec 1 deadline means we will need to re-register by Friday, November 29 in order to take advantage of the Opt-Out plan option.

The State of Vermont is providing only 4 business days to review the State and Opt Out plan options and re-register!  Seriously?!

After receiving lengthy Opt Out and State Plan documents from your office for the first time late in the afternoon last Friday, and clarifying comments today. Your December 1 deadline does not allow sufficient time for us to evaluate the options and get any necessary approvals through our management team in order to complete re-registration by Friday afternoon.

We believe asking for such a quick turnaround is not a reasonable request.

We hope you will grant an extension.

Best regards,

Keep in mind that at the date of this letter, ANR had still not informed the OEMs of the cost of the Standard Plan, or how the OEMs would be billed their share of the $720,000 "signing bonus" mysteriously awarded to Casella (something not offered to any other bidder, and not offered in the RFP, explanation of which was requested under FOIA and QUASHED).

It's like trying to play a basketball game (vs. giant Casella) when the referee is on the opposing team's payroll.   Sparta!

By using the calendar delays, shifting the case to Environmental Court, and vacating the injunction, the state allowed itself to immediately ink the deal with Casella Waste Systems (CWST).  CEO John Casella afterward sold 20% of his insider stock in the company, along with another insider, as news of Casella's fines (estimated in CWST prospectus as $1M) in another state solid waste incident were released in the CWST prospectus.  See article "Three Companies Drowning in Debt".

Ok, so I've picked a fight with a $120M garbage company, the state agency that regulates us, and Basel Action Network.   Either I'm not too bright, or I'm fighting for something besides "profit".  I could definitely win if I had another $100K to keep the lawyers and consultants going. But for a profit of $24K on $2.7M in gross income, is it wise?  Is it the thing I should do for my family, for my two children who are applying to college?

Gotta look at yourself in the mirror on your 52nd birthday.  We need to improve the state, improve the environmental movement, and make sure that things keep getting better.  Had I listened to the advice given me about "playing along" with Jim Puckett, and the warnings BAN would crush us, the E360 Report, the ITC Report, and the UNEP Ghana studies exonerating Geeks of Color may never have happened.

I can't tell my kids I was in Selma, or that I marched in the civil rights protests, or that I fought with the north in the Civil War.   I can't tell them I played a role in womens suffrage.  Not old enough to have participated in any of those fights, barely old enough to have an opinion on interracial marriage when Loving v. Virginia was litigated.    But I know Environmental Malpractice, and I know about defamation of Hurricane Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, and Hurricane Chiu, and Hurricane Su Fung...

"Everything I've been doing here has been for other people."   Walter White (Breaking Bad) came clean, and admitted he was doing it for himself.   But Breaking Good Point, which is what Mears staff is determined to do, is a different story.   I'm not selling crack or heroin in Vermont.  I'm recycling things they had no plan to recycle before I came here to Vermont.

Having driven the trucks and run this business, built it from the ground, for over a decade, here I am.  From this vantage point, Middlebury and Fronteras Mexico and Accra Ghana don't look that far away from each other.

Spoiler alert if you still haven't seen Breaking Bad and don't know the end, the final scene is pasted below.

Employers who borrow $300,000 of friends and family money, who go without a paycheck for months at a time, who drive beat up trucks for 14 hours a day, and certify the end markets to make the operation a USA-Today, NPR Marketplace, Living On Earth worthy operation... who take one of Addison County's three big 2008 crash closed companies (a plastic factory), and staff it with laid off people from Standard Register and Specialty Filaments, who participate with SCORE, Efficiency Vermont, Vermont WORKSAFE, earn R2 certification, join every Chamber of Commerce and Businesses for Social Responsibility we can find, participating in B-Corp and Investors Circle...  What did we NOT do to be accepted as a valuable player in Vermont?

This weekend... "And in response:"

I do love the song, and have posted the final scene with it below.
Guess I got what I deserved
Kept you waiting there too long, my love
All that time without a word
Didn't know you'd think that I'd forget or I'd regret
The special love I had for you, my baby blue
All the days became so long
Did you really think, I'd do you wrong?
Dixie, when I let you go
Thought you'd realize that I would know
I would show the special love I have for you, my baby blue
What can I do, what can I say
Except I want you by my side
How can I show you, show me the way
Don't you know the times I've tried?
[guitar solo (Joey Molland)]
Guess that's all I have to say
Except the feeling just grows stronger every day
Just one thing before I go
Take good care, baby, let me know, let it grow
The special love you have for me, my Dixie, dear.

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