Research E-Waste, Free the Hurricane Tinkerers in Africa

That Exotic Africa, the "Back to Eden" goal, the backwards Heart of Darkness, in need of the Great Green White Father to rescue them from their primitive E-Waste "e-waste hell".  Ok, this is not just another insult blog.  This contains some really terrific leads for academic researchers who want to publish something new about "e-waste" exports.  I have some very new and interesting leads below.

I'm fooling around with some background research, looking at the growth in number of households in Nigeria which have televisions in use (World Bank), the number BAN and ITC and UNEP say are imported, the percentage of sales which UNEP says are used/secondary to new.

Guess what?  Yet another data point.   I don't have time to really polish the argument below, but it adds up to about 85-90% reuse.

The growth in the number and percentage of Nigerian households who own TVs correlates to two things:

  1. the number of units entrepreneurs like Joseph Benson shipped there (BAN, UNEP, USITC)
  2. the growth in use of internet and TV use in Nigerian households (World Bank)
  3. the percentage of e-waste from Nigeria's own cities (UNEP)

There's nothing exotic going on here.  The "Great White Father", Jim Puckett, acts like some kind of a "no dancing dad", an Environmental Fundamentalist from Footloose II, a back-to-Eden, anti-growth, anti-globalization preacher, who has a right to point fingers at free market traders who obey the Basel Convention - which permits export for repair, something Jim voted against and lost.   BAN adorns its NGO website with fire and brimstone photos of poor kids at dumps, and says those photos trump the data.

J.Lepawsky photo, Accra (property of ... African)
But all the data is adding up to the same thing.   African cities are getting electricity.   Africans are moving closer to the city, where the electricity is.  Africans growth of internet and television use is exponential, much greater than the growth in OECD.   The growth is high where per capita income is $3000 per year, a market which cannot afford brand new equipment.  The brand new equipment sales in Africa are rife with ESD (electrostatic discharge) failure rates, as faulty equipment in new packages finds its way to countries with lesser warranty law enforcement.  And the per capita generation of "e-waste" grows in these countries, along with the growth of the internet.

Hardly a case for the arrests of Hurricane Joe Benson, Hurricane Hamdy, or Hurricane Chiu.

Link to Cahil Milmo and BAN, months before the sting by Milmo on Benson.  Follow up by Milmo, crowing over Benson's conviction of exporting TVs for dumping and burning.

UNEP found containers like Benson's, analyzed during his trial, were 91% reused... a higer reuse rate than brand new product.  The rest of this blog shows how World Bank data could have exonerated Mr. Benson, and disproven BAN's "Digital Dump" allegations, without even the benefit of the UNEP sampling.
The eight men, whose firm’s operated across the country, were found to have been at the heart of a lucrative trade which sends tonnes of waste computers and other consumer durables to west Africa and Asia every year to be stripped of valuable metals in grim conditions, often by children. 
One of the company owners, Joseph Benson, whose BJ Electronics toured civic waste sites picking up electronic goods to be sent illegally to Nigeria from east London, was convicted following an investigation by The Independent,Sky News and Greenpeace.
Except the premise "to be stripped of valuable metals in grim conditions, by children" is completely false.  That allegation was presented to the UK Independent by Basel Action Network (first link).   It was disproven by UNEP.  Like a modern day Mockingbird Robinson, Joe Benson has given up on the trial process.   Below, I provide hard evidence that BAN's "statistic" was false to begin with, and allege that our society would never have taken the accusation seriously in the first place if the trade in used TVs was between two white men.

Apology From BAN Consultant: Myth Dilemma

Note:   I updated this post from last year, because Jim Puckett has twice accused me of mudslinging in the past week, and I saw the link to the Chicago Patch article was gone.  JUST the one article is missing, by the way, the one where BAN insults me personally.   I didn't mean to raise it to a new publication date.  But not sure how to put it back onto last year.

Continue below if you like the rerun / refresher.

Basel Action Network Explains the 80%, or 90%, 75% or 50% "DATA"

The comment section of this week's Bloomberg Editorial by Adam Minter is probably a lot of "inside baseball" to a lot of people.   But there are a couple of gems.  Take this comment by Jim Puckett, Executive Director of Basel Action Network.
"Despite your reading diligence however, it is unfortunate that you did not start by questioning the baseless assertions made by Adam Minter in his reckless article.   Never has BAN ever stated that 80% of US e-waste is exported." 
(-Bloomberg News)
Well, well, well...

"Never has BAN ever stated that 80% of US e-waste is exported."- Jim Puckett  

My, my.  That's a bold statement to make on the world wide web.  I've taken a few moments to search the term "Puckett" and "80%" and "exports".    Jim's paragraph goes on to explain that BAN knew there was no harmonized tariff code, and that BAN relied on experts (surveys?)... really trying to isolate the statistic back to 2002, in his paper "Exporting Harm".
"That expert was cited in our report claiming the 80% estimate.   Realize however that we never claimed it was anything other than an informed estimate and we never said it applied to all US e-waste generation but rather the percentage exported of that which was delivered to recyclers. "
That Expert (see bottom) reported on his estimates via the comment field of this blog a few years ago (Adam Minter, a new acquaintance, actually saw this exchange with the expert).  And Jim Puckett participated as well.  Here is a flashback  "Finally!  The Source of the "80%" Statistic Steps Forward!"  And the expert's talking about baled material, shredded material, tested working material... not just primitively burned material (see the exchange in blue at bottom of this post).

Still, the assertion here is this:
"Never has BAN ever stated  that 80% of US e-waste is exported." 
Reckless indeed.  Do we really have to go all the way back to 2002 to find the statistic Bloomberg's columnist Adam Minter is trying to hold up to the light?  Oh, wait!  I've got INTERNET!!  Let's take a little voyage via Google and Bing's memory lane.   Search boxes will help jog our memory for some use of the claim between 2002 and 2013.

Bing!  In January 2013, just a few months ago, CAER (a group Jim Puckett cites in his comments, funded by Wendy Neu, a BAN Board member) used the state to promote RERA:
"We believe that currently about 80% of electronics claimed to be recycled in the US are really just “packed and stacked” into shipping containers and exported.  Aggregators of used electronics work through brokers to ship equipment overseas and get paid pennies per pound for this mixed assortment of electronics. We see solicitations from these brokers all the time.
Boink! Here's another post from less than a year ago... With the following quote from the Press Release  (from Placentia, CA), attributed to Jim Puckett, in late 2012:
"Approximately 80% of electronic waste currently delivered to recyclers is actually exported to developing countries." 
Pluke! From 2011 in support of RERA legislation banning sale of intact units:
"we estimate that 50-80% of e-waste that gets into recyclers’ hands is exported to developing countries, where it causes great harm."
Now to be fair, the three quotes above do perhaps limit the 80% to that which gets to recyclers, not the entire denominator of used electronics generated.   But OOPS... here  they go again.

Bloomberg: Stop the Baseless Panic Over "E-waste" Exports

llustration by Tim Lahan

Today Bloomberg News runs an editorial by Shanghai-based author Adam Minter which debunks the widely over-reported and false statistics about e-waste "dumping" overseas.   Citing several studies, Minter concludes
"Thanks to the International Trade Commission findings and other, smaller-scale studies, we now know that most secondhand electronics are reused and recycled in the U.S. The toxic tide that frightened Americans into stashing their old computers in closets turns out to be nothing more threatening than a trickle."
See Mike Enberg's response (from comment field) below.

Rumor Mongering: Is Jim Puckett Ousted at BAN?

For the past year, independent studies have piled up overwhelmingly demonstrating what this blog has maintained since 2007.  Basel Action Network does not know what it's talking about, and is making it up as they go along.  Whether they are told politely, or humorously, or angrily that their fiction is hurting the environment and developing nations, they ignore it.

E-Waste Watchdog "Basel Action" Re-Publishes Discredited Data

Or so far they have.   But rumors this month suggest that the Basel Action Network's Board of Directors may finally be listening.   Bad statistics are disappearing from the website.   And in their latest press release, Jim Puckett's name and phone number is missing (Mike Enberg and Sarah Westervelt are listed as the contacts).

Is Puckett just taking a leisurely break following the latest COP (Conference of Parties) at the annual Basel Convention get-together?  Or has the board of directors finally started to listen to environmentalists and development professionals who told them their poster child campaign has gone too far?

My Contribution to EPA CRT Cullet Discussion

This was my comment to the organizers and regulators in the meeting about CRT Cullet Markets (see agenda at bottom):
We were involved in the sale of CRT cullet from an alleged "pile" in the southwest which was widely speculated to be non-moving.

Cullet from the pile was sold (not through us but using our smelter's same trucking company) to a lead smelter in Mexico, which paid 7 cents per pound.

After the 2010 SEMARNAT border controls on the CRT cullet, the Mexico lead smelter said the material was a "headache".  They changed in 2012 to charging 7 cents per pound instead of paying 7 cents for the exact same material.  That is a change of 14 cents per pound based on nothing but "diligence" which equated (to the mining/primary smelting company) as "risk".

This discussion is inadvertently creating justification for companies which speculate on whole tubes, avoiding the cutting and washing.   EPA needs to clearly distinguish between diligence on whole unprocessed material and companies which have turned that material into saleable commodity.

A shredded toaster (steel pieces) should not carry a label of "toaster waste".  It's ferrous metal.  The CRT glass which has been processed should be treated as leaded silicate, and governed by MSDS and DOT etc. according to its properties, not as a "waste".
When we exaggerate the risks of "waste" (attributing more weight to the risk of human-generated secondary material) compared to the risks of identical or higher-risk "virgin" material, we set up bad regulation.  The regulations we have established for "Cathode Ray Tube" glass penalize a smelter if they try it as a feedstock.

The culprit, ironically, may be the word "Stewardship".

lead mining of yore
When we mine gold, copper, tin, iron, tantalum, silver, etc. from mountainsides and Indonesian coral islands, we do massive damage on several scales.  Endangered species are exposed by access roads.  Children mine coltan to fund warloards.   And the number one and number two sources of mercury in the USA are not mercury mining - they are gold and silver mining.   The mountainsides release radioactive uranium, leaded dust, mercury, etc.   Fourteen of the fifteen largest Superfund Sites in the USA have been hard rock metal mines.   But the mountain is not a "Steward".

We still govern mining based on the General Mining Act of 1872.   How can recycling compete with standards of yore?

Listening Live to the Consumer Electronics + EPA + ISRI Conference Call on CRT Glass

It's slowly coming across.

1)  Is there a risk?  

The concept of "speculative accumulation" was created because, while commodity status can be used to keep waste regulators at bay, there is a risk that the material is bound to become waste.  When it's a very expensive to manage and dispose-of material (say radioactive waste, or highly toxic mercury), there needs to be an avenue for regulators to step in if it's a disaster in the making.

However, what if there is no risk?  Steel and scrap paper are accumulated, copper is accumulated, gold speculation is rampant.   I have a television here in the house I don't watch much... I'm speculating it may be an antique someday and I'd like to keep it.

The TCLP test was misapplied to begin with.  CRT glass has vitrified lead, lead that does not leach out.  It's like the lead in leaded glass cyrstal.  There is no risk to it.

2)  By regulating it as if it's a risk, are we scaring away markets?

Absolutely.   The silicate and lead are positive revenue materials, and there are dozens of smelters which would accept these commodities if they were offered on the basis of their chemical properties.

The mis-application of the CRT Rule has created a false need for assurance.

3) Have we hobbled CRT cullet with rules that mined material doesn't have to follow?

You got it.

Jack Johnson, the Galveston Giant (Better Together)

History Channel:   I've learned about Jack Johnson, an African American professional boxer who was finally allowed to fight a white champion, Tommy Burns.  See also the Ken Burns documentary on PBS, titled "Unforgivable Blackness". He's in the news again (last month), for a congressional request to Barack Obama to grant Jack Johnson a pardon for his phoney conviction.

US Library of Congress
Both History Channel and Wikipedia link concern about Johnson's interracial sexual partnerships, and fear of his dominance of the sport, with the passage of the Mann Act. The Mann "White Slave" Act made it illegal to transport a prostitute geographically across state lines.   According to Wikipedia:

The White-Slave Traffic Act, better known as the Mann Act, is a United States law, passed June 25, 1910 (ch. 395, 36 Stat. 825codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. §§ 24212424). It is named after Congressman James Robert Mann, and in its original form prohibited white slavery and the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes". Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, "immorality", and human trafficking; however, its ambiguous language of "immorality" allowed selective prosecutions for many years, and was used to criminalize forms of consensual sexual behavior.[1] It was later amended by Congress in 1978, and again in 1986 to apply only to transport for the purpose of prostitution or illegal sexual acts.[1]

According to the History Channel documentary, the passage of the Mann Act in 1910 coincided with Jack Johnson's peak years, and specifically with Jackson's defeat of great-white-hope champion James Jeffries.  Race riots resulted.  Blacks celebrated, whites tried to stop the celebrations, people got killed.  It was the top news story the year the Mann Act was passed.

How to solve a problem of competition?  With racial discomfort and fear-based overreaction. 
 In addition to his punishing victories, however, Johnson was known for his extravagant lifestyle, and was excoriated by his white critics for his romantic relationships with white women. In 1913, Johnson was convicted (in what was widely considered a sham trial) of violating a federal law, the Mann Act of 1910, which outlawed the transportation of women across state lines for "prostitution, debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose." He was found to have traveled with his second wife, a former prostitute, across state lines before they were married.
That's right.   The 2010 Mann Act law against transporting prostitutes across a state geographical border was used to arrest Jack Johnson for driving his wife, a white woman, and ex-prostitute.   The courts found him guilty because he had driven her across a state border before they were married, in 1908.. Two YEARS BEFORE THE MANN ACT WAS PASSED!  

What does that remind us of?  How about the Basel Ban Amendment, which still hasn't been passed, which is described as some kind of a limit for transboundary export-for-repair, in today's trade journals?

Geography, protectionism, racial segregation... greed and fear... cognitive dissonance.    What's the root story?   Out of fear of competition, blacks were banned from boxing whites in the USA.   When Jack Johnson found a venue (Sydney, Australia) to meet and defeat the white boxing champion, and used his winnings to celebrate with white women prostitutes, whites tried to find a white hope to shred Jackson in the ring,  But the undefeated champion Jeffries, allowed to box Jackson in Las Vegas, would lose in 1910.

Should we stop White Slavery?  Of course.  But was it really a problem in the first place?  Or was it a way to rationalize interfering in relationships which bothered us for the wrong reasons?  People like Jacksons wife are described as victims, transportation is observed.   It doesn't add up to a crime.

More Insider Dope on Electronics Export Transactions: Giovana Vitola

Leyla Acaroglu tweeted us about a documentary, aired in Australia, as proof that electronics exports are bad.  The reporter is a Brazilian woman, who is now in Singapore.   I have an address for her to visit.
Giovana Vitola's documentary "E-Waste Hell"  (shown on Australia's DateLine) follows the Basel Action Network recipe.

1.  Fly to a big city in an exotic location.
2.  Find bored kids burning TV devices (and refrigerators) at a city dump.  Take film.
3.  Interview an African (Mike Anane) who reads and believes BAN's fake 80-90% export statistics.
4.  Go to the sea container yard and take pictures of televisions being unloaded (from Australia)
5.  Interview the importer with a hidden camera.

Before you assume this is "same old same old", watch the documentary all the way through.  I noticed a few things worth talking about.

First, the standard freeze frame screen shots show, once again, that the devices filmed in the landfill shot look nothing like the flat CRT (2003ish TV year, which would have been made a the Samsung Corning flat CRT furnace in Klang, Malaysia, which made the compact CRTs until 2011).  She films one with broken plastic, but it's clearly shipping damage, and it's cosmetic, it doesn't mean it won't work.
No, I don't think so.  Talk to StEP much?

Second, the undercover film shows what Interpol recognized in its 2009 "organized crime" report.  The sea container is being received by the family business... the importer says his brother lives in Australia, and bought the televisions.  Another "Hurricane Benson" being associated with the dump, kilometers away.

Interpol:  Brothers + buying = organization = mafia

Crayons on Maps: Your list of Acceptable Jobs

The theme of social choice, being able to choose a job, is key to mobility.  But mobility is also key to being able to select a job.

In the blogs here about slums, choices of jobs, and exports of materials, we are really talking about free trade.  If you ask people their opinions on free trade and sustainability, you can predict what their estimate is of bad trade.

The Bayesian analysis used by Reed Miller's group at MIT did some interesting things, using surveys of experts, seeding "known" information, and then weighting opinions of statistics according to their ability to answer known things correctly.  The expert who knows the most about your car is most likely to tell you correctly what is wrong with your car.

What is seriously lacking are surveys of Africans, Chinese, Latinos, living across the colored crayon lines that we have drawn on our maps.

Firehose 8: Leyla Acaroglu and "Environmental Folklore"

"There's no denying..."  Below are tweets sent last night from Australia, where the New York Times opinion author wrote yesterday's column about how cell phones and electronics are exported for primitive burning.  I tried to reason (and am still trying)...

2h There is no denying that the US exports and in cases dumps waste on other countries. Just one example Details2h Even what is 'donated' eventually becomes a legacy that has to be dealt with. Read what the UN says 
Here's the fascinating part... While she appeared to deflect the studies showing that the E-Waste Myths had exaggerated the dumping by tenfold, and even sent links to the UN studies back to me (and Adam M), and sent links from the "dark year" of 2010 which is when the studies were commissioned... her TED talk is actually - fantastically - titled "Question what you think".  It's all about using science and lifecycle to define sustainability, and to beware "environmental myths".

Leyla Acaroglu's TED Talk is called "Environmental Folklore".  It's about using Lifecycle analysis to determine the real environmental costs of our decisions.   She talks about the scatalogical focus of "end of life", which is the same theme/mantra of this blog.  She should be open to the idea that the carbon, energy, and environmental cost of a display device are mostly embodied from before it's even sold or initially used, and therefore (like UNEP) agree that reusing it makes more sense than shredding it.  But she says "even what is donated eventually becomes a legacy..."

In the TED talk on youtube, I agree with her thinking about plastic vs. paper.  What we need to do is get her to apply the same "looking at the entire system" to assess CRT reuse vs. CRT shredding, the "green myths".

"Before you listen to this little guy in your head..., you should stop and question what you think you know". 

She and I completely agree on the Lifecycle.  The problem is, that when she writes about "e-waste" and cell phones, she's letting the Little Green Gal do all her talking.   Greenpeace and BAN are telling little green lies, and it's not turning out well for Technicians of Color.

Myths, Folklore, Hoaxes and little green lies

FIREHOSE: New York Times Opinion Page (Leyla Acaroglu)

From today's NYT... An Opinion piece in support of the type of "export police" I've been writing about this month, in the Firehose Series.

Award winning designer, social scientist and sustainability expert Leyla Acaroglu "In far-flung, mostly impoverished places like Agbogbloshie, Ghana; Delhi, India; and Guiyu, China, children pile e-waste into giant mountains and burn it so they can extract the metals — copper wires, gold and silver threads — inside, which they sell to recycling merchants for only a few dollars. In India, young boys smash computer batteries with mallets to recover cadmium, toxic flecks of which cover their hands and feet as they work. Women spend their days bent over baths of hot lead, “cooking” circuit boards so they can remove slivers of gold inside. Greenpeace, the Basel Action Network and others have posted YouTube videos of young children inhaling the smoke that rises from burned phone casings as they identify and separate different kinds of plastics for recyclers. It is hard to imagine that good health is a by-product of their unregulated industry."

Smashing batteries to recover cadmium?  Descriptions of the same Youtube videos which have been discredited?  There is no new information in the column at all.  A lot of imagery of harsh conditions, poverty, victimization.  Who wrote the article?

Leyla Acaroglu is a sustainability strategist based in Melbourne, Australia.
Here are pictures of the people who buy and recycle cell phones.  Some of these pictures will look familiar.  Most will not.   I got these from a rare blog kept by David Kousemaker (dkousemaker), TechTravels Blog, a mostly photo blog (much less wordy) about used technology.  But unlike BAN and Greenpeace's photography, it's not political, and he isn't soliciting your "charitable donation".

I've put a handful of these photos in small scale below (fair use, and Kouserman actually allows non commercial commons use, see bottom).

Leyla, if you want to talk about sustainability in development, give me a ring.  I chose repair and refurbishing because the "Network of Tinkerers" is a model for development which offers an alternative from the curse of natural resources (and foreign aid, which appears to have the same effect as oil and diamonds, creating a Darwinistic government class that provides the greatest rewards to the sharpest elbows).  Tinkerers, networkers, technicians, fixers, repairers, geeks... those are the people who turn discarded tech into affordable access.  We called it "Yankee Ingenuity" in the Northeast.   There is no better way for a smart kid without connections to make $300 per day than by fixing and salvaging.

Read the other blogs here, Leyla, and you'll find that BAN and Greenpeace are filming the city dumps at major cities, and the used imports are mostly not the same stuff people throw away here after using it for 20 years.  Five reports show 9%, 10%, 13%, 15% of the imports are waste, which is actually less than new "affordable" product imported into places like Africa or sold in shops in China.  The free market is not as bad as you've described.  And no one can afford to pay for scrap to be shipped across the ocean just to dump it, something of value must be there for the ride (and it isn't batteries smashed for cadmium... who told you that?).

In May, 2011, I channeled a book from 1960.   No, not Vance Packard's "The Waste Makers", about planned obsolescence.   No, not Rachael Louise Carlson's "Silent Spring", about the invisible toxics from our heavy industry, and their heavy poisonous toll.

In "E-Waste Bloggers Play Atticus Finch", I referenced Harper Lee's dramatic novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird".   Ms. Lee, who has recently been in the news over copyright and author control, told the simple story of her native Monroeville, Alabama.
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

FIREHOSE Statistics on Exports of Used Electronics

"The majority of refurbished products stem from imports via the ports of Lagos. The interim
results from project component 2, the Nigerian e-Waste Country Assessment, show that 70%
of all the imported used equipment is functional and is sold to consumers after testing. 70%
of the non-functional share can be repaired within the major markets and is also sold to
consumers. 9% of the total imports of used equipment is non-repairable and is directly
passed on to collectors and recyclers."
- Final report of the UNEP SBC, E-waste Africa Project,  Lagos & Freiburg, June 2011 

Right wing think tank?  Protectionist industry study?
"9% of the total imports of used equipment is non-repairable and is directly passed on to collectors and recyclers."
No.  This is from the two year study of the Basel Convention Secretariat, one of the several listed at the UNEP and Basel Convention site.  " Informal e-waste management in Lagos, Nigeria – socio-economic impacts and feasibility of inter-national recycling co-operations"  And it is not a typo.  Thats NINE PERCENT, not 90%!

Ok.  It's not perfect.  9% of the used electronics purchased by Africans could not be reused or repaired, and that's a lot of waste.  But is it bad enough to ban exports?  

Take a guess what new item store returns are for product sold in California?  11.9%

That's right, dear readers.   According to the National Retail Foundation, store returns of merchandise sold in California is nearly 12%.   Now, no doubt some of those returns are "buyers remorse", and the NRF estimates that a certain percent is return fraud.  But that's retail, it doesn't include damage in shipping... or static damage discovered before the goods are sold, or are pulled from the shelf because of high returns.

Here are the statistics of the percentage of electronics which are damaged by ELECTROSTATIC charges upon import to the USA.   From ESD Association web site:
“Despite a great deal of effort during the past decade, ESD still affects production yields, manufacturing costs, product quality, product reliability, and profitability. Industry experts have estimated average product losses due to static to range from 8-33%. Others estimate the actual cost of ESD damage to the electronics industry as running into the billions of dollars annually. The cost of damaged devices themselves ranges from only a few cents for a simple diode to several hundred dollars for complex hybrids. When associated costs of repair and rework, shipping, labor, and overhead are included, clearly the opportunities exist for significant improvements.”
So damage to new electronics is estimated at 8-33%, and store returns in California are 11.9%.   And Ghana and Nigeria studies found loss or damage of used product to be between 9% and 15%.  

AND HERE'S the killer.   At the Vermont Fair Trade Recycling Summit at Middlebury College, I learned that brand new product - the ones Africans can afford, cheap stuff from China - fails at a higher rate than used goods!   The Ghana and Nigeria study never tested the new product, so there's actually not even a control group... but the Africans who came to the Summit said there's much less risk to buying used American  name-brand electronics.

Based on the firehose of disinformation hurled at Africa technicians, the statistics above aren't ever considered.  Basel Action Network fabricated, hallucinated, or otherwise made up the only statistic Interpol needed to arrest and seize the goods of 40 African electronics businesses in the past 6 months, 240 tons of affordable computers and televisions purchased by Africans for resale in their cities...

And now, without further adieu, here is today's press release from our friends in Seattle Washington.  Click below... hear how Puckett describes the "reuse excuse", those nasty, polluting, toxic African techs.  From the source of the "90% of Africa Imports are Primitive", here's a report from the Basel Convention.... which leading up to the Fair Trade Recycling Summit, is leaning our way.


FIREHOSE BLOG: Africans, Malaysians, Middle Eastern Technicians - Run for cover

The firehose of disinformation about our Fixer brethren continues.

There is a war against the "Good Enough Market".  CAER, Greenpeace, and Basel Action Network have refused to withdraw the falsified and disproven statistic that 80% of used electronics exports are primitively burned in a horrible toxic process.  Interpol in Europe, acting on the fake, discredited, false, made-up statistic, has arrested 40 African export businesses.  USA EPA has publicly accused an Egyptian man of primitive ape-like processes for 100,000 computer monitors for which he paid $28 each ($21 per monitor plus approximately $7 in shipping).

You think the USA had a problem in the deep south in the 1960s?  Look at how we are treating the Deep South of the world.  Firehose of false, fake, brutally dishonest allegations against technicians in developing world.  And it's "environmentalists" holding the firehose.

Emerging markets (3 billion people with per capita income ~$3k/year) online more hours than West
Greenpeace Europe video accuses these men of burning these TVs.  Interpol arrested their boss.

Malaysia has now taken away the permit from this factory, written about by Shanghai reporter Adam Minter.

I got out of the Egypt business just before the crackdown by shipping monitors to the Malaysia company, which refurbished them to new-in-box warranty for my old Egyptian partner.  Now, the Environmental Malpractice is making them the fourth victim.

FIREHOSE: Environmental "E-Waste" Sustainability: Peter Sellers "Being There"

Following the blog policy to keep video to a minimum (it consumes a lot of bandwidth for readers in "good enough" internet bandwidth markets, even if their CRTs actually display better video quality than LCDs...) I will not embed the trailer to Peter Sellers' 1979 Film, but encourage you to follow the link.

BEING THERE.  (link to trailer on youtube, plot summary from wikipedia below fold)

Ewaste advocates think they walk on water
The analogy/allusion?

We meet someone who gets all his information from TV... cannot read or write.  Someone else, involved in something really important (economic policy) bestows their faith to the someone who just repeats things he saw on TV.   They become "insiders", powerful people with lots of influence.

Someone (Jim Puckett) took a picture of mixed electronics in the USA, then took a picture of sorted/single unit electronics unloaded from a sea container in Africa, then took a picture of (decades old) junk TVs generated in Africa at dumps.  He announced that the Africans are buying the unsorted junk from the USA and burning it in fires in Africa.

Some of us who really were "being there" in Africa decades ago know that the technicians who import the goods are the best darn hopes their nations have, the Ben Franklins of their emerging democracies, used computer displays filling the role of the used  printing equipment Franklin brought to Philadelphia.

BAN and Greenpeace's story... It's mathematically and economically impossible, its disproven by looking closely at the second photo (sorted, stretch-wrapped black hotel-upgrade quality TVs).  There's no interview with the Africa buyer.  Then, when the gobs and loads and piles of shredded TV glass appear here in the USA, our friend Jim shows up with a camera, saying "Tsk, Tsk" to the New York Times.

CBS 60 Minutes, NPR Fresh Air, PBS Frontline... the list of media consuming the images and reporting the "conclusion" makes Sellers movie seem more than possible/plausible in the Sustainability community.  How will college PIRG "E-Stewards" activists look international students in the eye when the simple hoax becomes apparent?  It's a hatchet job on the reuse market, planned obsolescence and big shred, playing us for fools.