Evolution of RERA #eWaste Legislation: Spinning H.R. 2791 Obsolescence

Lobbying for the RERA Bill, to bring EU style enforcement to bear on secondary market electronics, keeps shifting parameters.   Here's a blow by blow on why exports of used electronics should (or shouldn't) be banned.   The justifications for both RERA and Interpol enforcement seem to go "obsolete" every 18-24 months... Moore's Law for accusations?  

Summary: H.R.2791 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)

(Note, the dialogue is equally effective in summarizing INTERPOL's Project Eden enforcement)

"The legislation is necessary because 80% of USA e-scrap is exported and dumped.  It was necessary to arrest Joe Benson and more like him.".

- No, actually USITC and MIT show conclusively that most is not exported (otherwise why would we have all those CRT glass piles?)

"We meant, The legislation is necessary because of what IS exported, 75% is simply dumped and recycled in primitive conditions.   It was necessary to arrest Joe Benson and more like him."

- No, actually 85%-93% is reused, not dumped, according to multiple peer reviewed UN studies.

"Ahem.  Thanks to the attention we brought, and arrest of Joe Benson, the situation is greatly improved.  Legislation is needed to continue this improvement."

- No, the studies were on the containers seized during his arrest.  It was literally the accused containers that were found to be 85%-93% reused.  He didn't do what you said.

"While the 80% dumping was exaggerated, 9-15% dumping is still completely unacceptable.  Legislation is needed so Africa will leapfrog into new product..."

- No.  Actually, brand new product imported to Africa was found to fail more often than the used equipment, either due to lightweighting (less durable, cheaper components susceptible to Africa's electric grid fluctuations), or shipment of "new" ESD damaged warranty returns to Africa.

"The legislation is necessary because the scrap children and orphans burning this used imported electronics material...."

- No wait...wait, wait..  99% of the activity is used automobiles exhausted in Ghana.  Only 20-50 items / day brought to Agbogbloshie are "ewaste". The wire burning is mostly tires and automobile wire.

"What we mean is that most of the e-waste that IS seen in Agbogbloshie was very recently imported, delivered in sea containers. Legislation..."

- No, actually nothing is brought in a single sea container.  Not one.  The port is 2 hours away.  The 20-50 units / day are gathered from a city of 5M, in wheeled street carts.

"We care about these particular children.  In this particular case, the boy Rachid, handling e-scrap, is between 12-18 years old, which is typical of the workers in the scrap yard.  Legislation..."

- No, Rachid is 22.  Documented NGO studies showed 70% of workers at Agbogbloshie are between 18-30 years old.  In fact typical of every business in Ghana.  It is no more likely to be "child labor" than any African business, from cocoa to cotton to coffee to eco-tourism

"Still... Legislation banning exports will bring more recycling jobs to USA and the EU."

- No, if the exports are being reused, that 10% USA exports is worth 500%-100,000% more, creating more jobs to remove material from shredders.  See RIT study on $100 billion/year used equipment refurbishment markets.

"Banning exports will keep valuable metals in the EU and USA."

- What?  Metals mined in Africa?  The Africans export the copper and steel to the same Chinese foundries we export to.   C'mon, that's a pretty stupid reason to imprison African TV repairmen. 

"Legislation is necessary, and we needed to imprison Joe Benson because... um ... because of National Security Concerns.   Africans may be selling submarine parts back to US Navy with faulty chips."

- OK.  We are jailing African television repairmen for US National Security?   A) You guys don't know what you are talking about, and B) you are making it up as you go along, right?

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