Glasnost is Good for NGOs

In the course of researching links for yesterday's post, I had an Orwellian experience. Press quotes and articles appeared to have changed, or had I misread them?

The specifics of yesterday's post had to do with the paradox of manufacturer takeback as a solution when manufacturers are in countries which  the NGOs object to.   If no monitor is made in the USA, a monitor sent for repair or reuse - sometimes under warranty - goes back to the factories I've been lobbying in favor of (if certain "fair trade" criteria are agreed to and monitored).

The "primitive" description of the Indonesian factory I can no longer find... NRDC's quote in the Boston Globe now has brackets in it, which I don't recall and am not really sure how brackets are captured in an interview in the first place. But here is ETB's press release, still inaccurate, still on the web.  Note ETB's claim that the sea containers sent to the Indonesian CRT manufacturing factory "were opened and confirmed to be stacked full of untested, used computer monitors -- each containing several pounds of lead and other hazardous substances -- thus making them an internationally defined hazardous waste and therefore illegal to import into Indonesia."

Now look at the quote from Puckett in the Boston Globe article about the containers.  "But Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network said those assertions defy belief. Research his group has done shows that 75 percent of CRT tubes sent overseas do not work. Testing should be done on each one, he said."

  • Where is the research?
  • Where are the numbers?
  • I have done research and found that 75% of these loads are good, and agree that 25% bad is unacceptable... I am not an "apologist" for ewaste dumping.   ASU found that 85% of  computers shipped to Peru are good.  

I have gone public with my allegation that BAN does not possess any numbers or statistics at all, and that BAN knowingly told CBS News that monitors (in the Hong Kong segment) were being sent to Guiyu, when I have already sent BAN documentation of the contract (re-)manufacturing factories visited in Guangdong. 

To remain credible, NGOs which make false accusations must acknowledge they made them and retract them publicly, not simply re-write them or remove them from the web after the article has been written.

THE LINK TO THIS press release below, as of today, is here.  To be fair, I have not spoken one on one with Barbara at ETB in awhile, I owe her the courtesy of a call.  (I have spoken to BAN ad nauseum, provided pictures, and they still claim that "fair trade recycling" is poisoning people.  I believe their organization is trapped in their own story and that their entire funding could collapse if they back down from the 75% toxics claims).

Fake Electronics Recycling in Massachusetts

Indonesia Rejects Nine Shipping Containers from Brockton "Recycler"

In February 2010, the government of Indonesia turned back nine containers full of cathode ray tube TVs and monitors sent from CRT Recycling, Inc of Brockton, MA. CRT Recycling collects TVs and monitors for free from cities, towns, and schools across Massachusetts.

The Indonesian government acted after ETBC partner group the Basel Action Network (BAN) witnessed the containers being loaded in November 2009. When the containers arrived in February, Indonesia seized the containers, inspected them, and ordered them returned to the United States. They would have been an illegal import of hazardous waste into Indonesia, so they were rejected.

Export Used EPA-Registered Broker

CRT Recycling utilized a waste broker, Advanced Global Technologies Inc., of Burbank, CA, to handle the shipping of the containers. Advanced Global Technologies is listed on an official EPA website as being an EPA registered e-waste exporter. Under the CRT rule, the EPA requires two different kinds of protocols for CRT exports, one for CRTs exported for "recycling" and another for CRTs exported for "reuse." If the CRTs would have been exported for recycling, the exporter would have had to ask the EPA to request permission from the government of Indonesia to import the containers. But this export was made as "for reuse" which does not require a notice and consent procedure. Exports of CRTs in the name of reuse require the exporting company to merely file a one-time notice with the EPA, stating that they are exporting for reuse. No approval process is required.

BAN Tracked Containers to Indonesia

In this case, BAN volunteers staked out CRT Recycling Incorporated in Brockton, Massachusetts, a company that takes thousands of monitors every year from local schools and governments who unwittingly believe their old computers and monitors will legally and properly recycled. BAN photographed a container in the CRT Recycling, Inc. yard being loaded with cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors. Using container numbers and online shipping company databases, they were able to track the container and its ship to the port of Semarang, Indonesia. In November of 2009, BAN contacted the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and warned them of the ship’s imminent arrival and the hazardous wastes it carried.

Indonesian authorities then seized the container and found it to be part of a consignment of 9 such containers coming from CRT Recycling, Inc. These were opened and confirmed to be stacked full of untested, used computer monitors -- each containing several pounds of lead and other hazardous substances -- thus making them an internationally defined hazardous waste and therefore illegal to import into Indonesia. All 9 containers were then returned to the US. The containers arrived in Boston port in early February and detained at the Boston Freight Terminal with a deadline to clear customs by February 28th. CRT Recycling, Inc. has stated that they will turn the CRTs over to RMG Enterprises, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, for further processing. The EPA is expected to inspect the containers upon arrival.

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to NRDC.  As expected, NRDC, a very reputable organization, did (unlike BAN) respond to the letter, and I hope more dialogue will ensue.

Letter to NRDC Ingenthron 100302                                                            

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