Historical E-Waste Attests #FreeJoeBenson on #ZeroWasteWeek

The result of multiple studies by US Trade Commission, Secretariat of the Basel Convention, Memorial University, MIT, etc. is damning.

Second Hand electronics, imported to Africa, are not a "digital dump" or "reuse excuse" or "sham recycling". African Techs know more about what works in Africa than the NGOs do.

"E-Waste" filmed by photojournalists like Kevin McElvaney and BitRot did originate in Europe and the USA, but those filmed were imported by Africa's Tech Sector 20 years ago. The device being scrapped by a metal worker in a slum has lived a long and healthy second life, bringing affordable internet and teledensity to the continent for two decades. Interpol's "Project Eden" is about 6,000 years too late.

An NGO took the pics of kids at dumps and said "We must arrest the exporters".

The exporters, according to Interpol, are mostly Africans like Joe Benson.

And stupidly, Lord Chris Smith listened to fictious, made up statistics of 80% dumping, repeated by the photojournalists, a statistic with no economic reason to it and now without a source.  No source.  None at all.

Because the NGO source of the dumping data claims never to have said it.

"If you think I buy equipment, put in a boat and follow all the way to Africa, pay customs duties and truck it for landfill – if you find that, put put me in prisoin for 100 years.  I will stay here in prison 100 years."  - Joe "Hurricane" Benson (BJ Electronics)

Since there's no source for the Story of Stuff, it is time to listen to Africans, like Grace Akese, Emmanuel Eric Nyalete, Wahab Muhammed Odoi, and others in Africa's Tech Sector who explain how the old VCR being hammered for metal at Agbogbloshie was imported in the early 1990s.  Most TVs sold in Africa in the 80s and 90s relied on VCRs for programming.  Now there is satellite, there are 21 Ghana TV stations broadcasting, and streaming internet video carries the programming.  So the VCRs are being junked.

Just like here.  I've got 2 working ones here in my house that I haven't used for 5 years.

Joe Benson of BJ Electronics is guilty of buying VCRs and exporting them to Africa in the early 1990s.  He may well have exported the VCR Recording Camera which was brought to film me in Tamale, Ghana last April.

I filmed, too. We went to Agbogbloshie, and took pictures of the "orphans" at the "dumping ground".  An African geek brought me there, who interviewed the scrappers in Dagbani, their own language.  They shared their opinions of what was going on with the poverty porn.  They told me it was propaganda, about a campaign to evict them from the land, an inner-city parcel 9 minutes from Accra's nicest resort hotels.  Three months later, the land grab happened, this site was bulldozed.  Rather, the other side of the lagoon, where the scrap men's families lived (the city developers mysteriously put the bulldozers where the people were, not the empty space where they burned wire).

Silent Spring was published in 1960.

So was To Kill a Mockingbird.

So was Vance Packard's book, The Waste Makers.

Africa does have real problems.  What will happen to a smart phone 20 years from now is somewhere on the list, but probably distant from gay rights, mining pollution, conflict metals, and endangered species poaching.  The arrest of techs like Joe Benson is an immediate problem.  It endangers the very credibility of the environmental movement, and if we don't out it now we are the ones playing with fire.

The Zero Waste Movement knows that the worst recycling is better than the best mining.  They know the pressures on the reuse "gray market".  They know that recycling is best done by hand, not by shredding machine.  And they aren't into racial profiling and Poverty Porn.

Join (or re-Join) Fair Trade Recycling.  Because we didn't forget these books, and they told us so.

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