WR3A is Fair Trade Recycling - 10 Years

The World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association, doing business as Fair Trade Recycling, was legally incorporated in Vermont a decade ago.  How have we done, and what it the status?

The group originally had great success by finding very very large import orders (places like Malaysia's Net Peripheral) and working as a collective to supply those orders from USA companies willing to export to the right people.  It was financially interesting to both the buyer and seller.  However, this model created a disincentive to add more members (increasing supplier members diluted USA members, recruiting demand members diluted vetted overseas companies).  Membership reached a critical mass it could not grow from.  We added more USA suppliers, the price of exported goods went down, etc.

The coop model severely imploded in 2012, when a copy of one of our audits of the Malaysia company was sent by a USA Big Shred investor to the Malaysia Department of Environmental Conservation.  The import letter was valid, Malaysia officials said, but they also visited the factory and took away the import permit.

"No good deed goes unpunished."

"Poverty was not created by export of used goods. Wealth was created by import of used goods."

WR3A offered to fight for the Malaysia importer, but they told us that the industry had matured and they wanted to retire anyway, and literally said "It's a good thing, not a bad thing".  But when we wanted to bring another refurbishing buyer into the coop, we had to seriously reflect on whether the same thing would happen to them.  We visited and found and "silently approved" another  CRT refurbisher in Indonesia, but did not recruit them into WR3A or handle any exports to or from them.

Instead, Fair Trade Recycling became "cause based".  It was no longer acting as a broker.  We became, essentially, the Anti-Defamation League of the Tech Sector, the "geeks of color" in emerging markets.  Our mission became to stop the racial profiling and false statistics being generated in the press about "informal" tech demand overseas.  We began working with universities to assist in researching the truth, and using facts to generate new guidance documents and principles for fair trade.  The first and foremost principle is not to boycott, and not to impugn, technicians based on their language, color, or national origin.

I'm paying my $350 membership now.  And I'm asking you to do the same.

We need a new website.  We need a fresh message.  We need to take the truth and mobilize it.

My funds are going to support college students [Fair Trade Recycling Ambassadors] who are going overseas to visit tech sector repair shops in Africa.  These students won't take my blog's word for it.  They will see for themselves whether the junk at Agbogbloshie was a) recently imported waste, or b) generated by Ghana households who had TVs and computers decades ago.  They'll see for themselves if there is any way to replicate the "crimes" alleged by EU policy wonks, reporters, Mike Anane, or Basel Action Network.  And they will be given access to over 10 years of data that said what they are seeing all along.

Many of came to a conclusion that the boycott-the-geeks approach was buoyed largely by racism.

Accidental racism, of course.  But it was environmental malpractice to treat African Techs, like Joe "Hurricane" Benson, the way the UK treated them.  And we need young people to see for themselves what kind of malpractice their well-intention-ed elder environmentalists were selling, and how Big Shred and the Charitable Industrial Complex and Planned Obsolescence benefitted from it, and estimate how much money they wasted prosecuting African and Asian TV repairmen.

Now all of this sounds "negativism" to my friends in the established e-waste recycling sector.  Groups like R2 (SERI) and E-Stewards say they want to get along, to reform the trade, and to establish best practices.  But I say they have been too silent for too long about Joe "Hurricane" Benson, Net Peripheral, and dozens of other legitimate and honorable e-Scrap markets.

"Poverty was not created by export of used goods. Wealth was created by import of used goods."

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