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Environmental Watchdogs Confused By E-Waste Practices

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the loudest-voices dept.

Businesses 113

retroworks writes with a California-centric story that might have parallels in other states, too: "The Sacramento Bee digs further into the controversy over E-Waste exports, and finds that environmental watchdogs doth protest too much. Remember how we were all urged to use a 'Pledge' Signing company to properly recycle our old computers and televisions? Remember how companies which didn't 'Pledge' were accused of exporting toxic poisons by groups like Basel Action Network? The Bee's Tom Knudson discovered that some of the loudest Pledge recycling companies used the exact same exporting brokers as BAN was attacking as 'worst actors.' One California firm exported 6.9 million pounds of raw electronics through the same export market which the environmental 'watchdog' attacked earlier this year... Whether or not the export market was ok to begin with, or continues to be unacceptable, the watchdogs still want to be the experts of who is the best 'e-waste' recycling company. Credibility, RIP."

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Me gusta hacer caca (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441370)

First post!

Balance. (4, Interesting)

MrQuacker (1938262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441390)

What's the issue here? China makes cheap crap, we use it and send it back. Let the toxins go back to where they were created.

Re:Balance. (2)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441874)

For me, the real issue is that nobody ever, and I mean ever, blames the recyclers for their sins. It's always the American company that's at fault. This has strong elements of racism as it implies only we "good people" have the power to choose, and we can only expect those "bad people" in China to expose workers to toxic wastes. It's just what "those people" do, sort of like the fable of the scorpion and the frog.

Re:Balance. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441928)

<zombie>
reeecyyyclllle....
</zombie>
Zombie Hitler has it on good authority from Zombie Stalin that you should recycle, so do it. (They reconciled (reconcycled?) and now agree on braaains.)

Re:Balance. (2)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442288)

Frog, a State Worker, was due to retire at full pay at the time of his demise.

A man in a boat rescued Scorpion and retrieved Frog.

The Trial Court ruled that there was no crime since there were no witnesses, and Frog had failed to file charges in a timely manner.

Scorpion moved in with Frog's widow and became a famous chef whose signature dish was Tadpole Sauce Picante.

Re:Balance. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443148)

Let the toxins go back to where they were created.

Are you new? When we send PVC-jacketed copper wire back to china, some peasant squatting in the dirt somewhere is setting it on fire? And then the emissions (when PVC burns you create dioxin, among other nasties) get picked up by the jet stream and sent right back to the US of A.

Former insider says (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441406)

Short insight from a former insider - the problem is huge, the middle men working to facilitate the process are abundant, the business model is quick, simple, and lucrative. Unfortunately it robs us of our responsibility to the planet as well as an entire necessary industry we should be advancing, that is the safe deconstruction and recycling of modern devices. It's a messy situation. But nothing modern engineering couldn't design around, and I think in the long run we could craft very clean, efficient methods of dealing with a lot of this "waste". Yes, we have some growth in this area, but the problem is that it's still too expensive. Stateside recyclers charge somewhere between $10-80 dollars per cathode ray tube handled, whereas most waste brokers who ship overseas will pay you, something like $20-50 a pallet (of I think 36). The most unfortunate part is that customers here really do have an interest in doing things correctly, they just don't often have a budget for it and shop on promises but also price.

Re:Former insider says (2)

LynzM (1240854) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441476)

That absolutely makes sense. If we can engineer the *how* of how to build the products (and really, now, how many consumer products that are being "thrown out" are cutting edge?), we absolutely should be able to design the how to deconstruct and reuse the products.

Re:Former insider says (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443042)

Recylcing should actually be very lucrative , because you get payed twice : they pay you for taking the waste , and then after you process it , you can sell the resulting endproduct.

Re:Former insider says (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444710)

It is and it isn't.

Computers and servers are solid gold. Scrap metal, high quality circuit boards, gold and silver contacts, large amounts of aluminum. Old TVs, monitors, even LCDs and plasmas are at best a break even proposition because the majority of their weight is plastic and materials that are expensive or at the current time impossible to recycle. Things like keyboards and mice contain almost nothing of value to fund their disposal, same with modern office and home homes and dozens of other products that may not jump to mind but are a the reality of eWaste. This also includes products which could be valuable but due to low yields or modenr "black box" mentality construction practices the labor cost of dealing with them far outstrips any resulting return.

Re:Former insider says (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444726)

We have a how, it's just not cost effective to compete against a work force that makes 0 wages with 0 safety controls. Toxic waste is really cheap to deal with if you're not concerned with safety, not so much if you are.

I don't get it... (3, Interesting)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441448)

I'm thoroughly humbled by the fact that I have no friggin idea what the summary is saying. Can someone explain this to me in simple terms?

Re:I don't get it... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441480)

Environmental watchdogs say "Company A uses practice X, which is bad. Company B uses practice Y, which is good." In reality, both companies use practice X.

Re:I don't get it... (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441486)

A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work today in my vineyard.' He answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

Re:I don't get it... (2, Funny)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441564)

A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work today in my vineyard.' He answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

Irrelevant. The third son said "Screw you and your patriarchial abuse", and had his father arrested for exploiting children for labour.
The farm was sold, the sons finally received a decent education instead of anecdotal fairy tales, and got laid regularly.

Re:I don't get it... (5, Funny)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441684)

A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work today in my vineyard.' He answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

Irrelevant. The third son said "Screw you and your patriarchial abuse", and had his father arrested for exploiting children for labour. The farm was sold, the sons finally received a decent education instead of anecdotal fairy tales, and got laid regularly.

But on their deathbed, they wept openly and cried out, "I only regret that I never learned the difference between a fairy tale and a parable!"

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441934)

For lack of modpoints I present you with a shiny new Internet which you just won. Well played, Sir.

Re:I don't get it... (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443156)

I hope this one hasn't got any spam in it. Or barring that, hold the AT&T.

Re:I don't get it... (-1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443398)

Whoosh gets rewarded now, I see. The fairy tale was the Abrahamic religion that provided the setting for this particular parable.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444578)

The problem is the point made by the parable is valid, whether or not you believe the religion that generated it. So it is perfectly valid to reward the person who pointed that out in a humorous manner. You are the one who should be modded done, since you are more concerned with being anti-religion than paying attention to the point that the original poster made.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34445414)

*lift eyebrow*
I thought I addressed that properly, by showing how the parable was invalid because it depends on the assumption that making your children work is OK?

Or did you miss that part, because you were hung up on the fairy tale comment?

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 3 years ago | (#34445530)

The child whose parents don't make him work is going to have a difficult time living in a society in which he must work to earn money to survive, because he won't have had practice or experience...

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34445642)

You are making the mistake of assuming that the sons in the parable are young enough to constitute problems with child labor laws. Because I am familiar with the culture in which this parable was told (and because it was told in a similar context to the parable of the prodigal son), I have always read the sons as being in their late teens to early twenties. There is certainly nothing in the parable (or its context) that requires this, there is also nothing in the parable that even suggests that the sons in question are young children.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34446222)

I don't think you should be accusing anyone of missing the point. Most everyone else figured out "actions speak louder than words."

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34443932)

A man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, 'Son, go work today in my vineyard.' He answered, 'I will not,' but afterward he changed his mind, and went. He came to the second, and said the same thing. He answered, 'I go, sir,' but he didn't go. Which of the two did the will of his father?

Irrelevant. The third son said "Screw you and your patriarchial abuse", and had his father arrested for exploiting children for labour.
The farm was sold, the sons finally received a decent education instead of anecdotal fairy tales, and got laid regularly.

With the farm sold at a public action, which was oddly enough held across the state from the actual farm, only at it's poorest and remotest courthouse with no other farms for sale at final auction before Christmas. Who's kind heart would bid the opening and wining bid of a one hundred and sixty thousand dollar, 20% of "appraised" value of the farm; but the son of the administrator of the auction system. The kids would receive the money after they left the foster system not knowing the generosity of the administrators family. But the son knowing what to do would a get a fancy liberal arts degree with it's crushing debt, not at all due to paying sixty thousand dollar a year janitors cleaning up for mere millionaire professors. He's twelve kids all getting free tuition for the engineering degrees the father unfairly forcing upon them because he would "let them waste his hard work cleaning toilets on a fucking arts degree". The framer's sons lack of clear a carrier path lead to his life under a bridge, but at least he still had plenty of time to protest the "Son, go work today in my vineyard," mentality of the establishment. Unfortunately, the memories of indiscriminate pussy would do little to keep him warm in the winter. Some spare change was easy to come by especial when he told his heart crushing story of how "rich farmer" father refused to help him because he wouldn't work at tender age of twelve for a father. Some unimportant detail's hope over due to artistic license.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441516)

The watchdog groups:
  • Have no clue what they're talking about, and
  • Are making shit up as they go along.

Whether or not this applies to other groups or not, I have no idea.

Re:I don't get it... (3, Funny)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441544)

I'm thoroughly humbled by the fact that I have no friggin idea what the summary is saying. Can someone explain this to me in simple terms?

As far as I can tell it's about improper handling of e-waste, specifically e-waste was submitted to Slashdot and rather than handling it properly the Slashdot editors just passed the garbage on to it's readers unmodified.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441694)

I'm thoroughly humbled by the fact that I have no friggin idea what the summary is saying. Can someone explain this to me in simple terms?

As far as I can tell it's about improper handling of e-waste, specifically e-waste was submitted to Slashdot and rather than handling it properly the Slashdot editors just passed the garbage on to it's readers unmodified.

How is that news? We've all known that for years.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441820)

So what? Your improper handling of the apostrophe just passes the garbage from your keyboard to my screen. "It is" readers? Really? Is the difference between its and it's so complex, so perplexing, so abstruse and subtle that you can't learn it?

Re:I don't get it... (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442028)

In general, both possessives and contractions have apostrophes. This is easy to remember. The rules are different for "its" and "it's". Should I violate the possessive rule, or the contraction rule? I can't remember this because it is totally arbitrary.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442682)

Hmmm..... If you're going to criticize someone's grammar you ought to at least have a decent knowledge of the subject manner. As it's has been in use since 1555, and its since 1507, I'd say your knowledge of grammar is more than a little outdated.

From Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:

it's
\its, ts\
Definition of IT'S
: it is : it has
First Known Use of IT'S
circa 1555

Now, from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary comes the definition of its:

its
adj \its, ts\
Definition of ITS
: of or relating to it or itself especially as possessor, agent, or object of an action
See its defined for English-language learners
Examples of ITS

      1. the dog in its kennel
      2. The landscape is beautiful in its own unique way.
      3. Each region has its own customs.
      4. The company is hoping to increase its sales.

Slashdot, where the blind aggressively attempt to lead the seeing on a daily basis.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443092)

Thanks for the info.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 3 years ago | (#34446204)

I don't see what you're getting at.

editors just passed the garbage on to it's readers

According to your info, the previous statement should read:

editors just passed the garbage on to its readers

which is what the AC was whining about.

There were two "it's" in the post, not just one. The first one was correct. The second was not.

Re:I don't get it... (2)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441596)

After I RTFA, it seems the summary is more FUD than anything else. I have no clear idea how the blogger pulled it out of the main article, and I didn't really feel like RTFB to find out. Perhaps, then, the unintelligibly of the summary is a backwards way to get hits.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441600)

The big famous green ewaste company, which the enviro group directed everyone to use, was shipping to the same chinese guy the enviros were protesting against. :You kind of have to click the article.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

OrigamiMarie (1501451) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441646)

I don't know the details, but I think it goes something like this:
Company X says "Sure, we'll take that e-crud you don't want off your hands for the low-low price of $10 per whatever-it-is."
Company Y says "But we'll recycle that e-crud into something somebody wants, in an environmentally- and worker-sensitive way. That will be . . . $15 please, for a whatever-it-is."
Company Y proceeds to unload the junk on the same Company Z that Company X uses, thus nullifying the promise and the extra money, and making the environmentalists who endorsed Company Y look silly.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441676)

I'm thoroughly humbled by the fact that I have no friggin idea what the summary is saying. Can someone explain this to me in simple terms?

Sure. Do you want a car analogy, or a sex analogy?

Re:I don't get it... (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441698)

How about a car sex analogy?

Re:I don't get it... (2)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441726)

How about a car sex analogy?

So, this one car is humping another car, and he's been warned never to car-hump without a car-condom, so he asks her if she's put a car-condom on her tail pipe and she honks yes, and he feels good about that, but the next day he reads in the paper about a study which conclusively showed that there's no difference between using and not using a car-condom because the car condom literally does nothing. The cars issuing the original warning were basically just making shit up so they could sound important.

Re:I don't get it... (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441926)

I'm still trying to work out the "Credibility RIP" line. Does that refer to some pledge, the blogger or Slashdot for reposting such drivel? As a non-Californian, I had no knowledge of the subject matter. But the most obvious thing that I found on my first reading of the summary was that it was it was written in completely biased manner. Without knowing what the story was, I already got wary that I was being preached to, and so I assumed that whatever I was being told was probably not the whole truth.

On further reading, my next impression was that somebody was making a mountain out of a molehill. Some company that is willing to do the wrong thing is also capable of lying to people. How amazing, eh? Just because some company made a pledge seven years ago doesn't mean that they don't need someone checking to see if they are telling the truth.

Finally, how many people even know what companies have made pledges? How important is this to anyone? Maybe they have a similar scheme going in my neighborhood - I wouldn't know because I can't think of many people who would actually care.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442754)

Do you not understand "credibility", or is it "RIP" with which you're struggling?

Maybe there is a third option and you fall into it. Do you not understand that when Organization Z, which has set itself up as the Conscience_of_America with respect to recycling, says Company X is evil for using this practice and we certify that Company Y would never do that, that their assertion must be true? If Organization Z is to have any credibility Company Y must not be using the same evil process as Company X. When it turns out Company X and Company Y use exactly the same process Organization Z makes itself look incompetent, dishonest, or both. Thus, the credibility of Organization Z is dead. Who is going to believe anything they say when they've shown they either don't have a clue as to what they're talking about, or they're lying to everyone on a grand scale?

Re:I don't get it... (2)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443298)

Do you not understand "credibility", or is it "RIP" with which you're struggling?

Oh please, you are not off to a great start there. That was a stupid bit of juvenile wordplay that (rather ironically) robs your post of credibility. Only people who can't think through a full argument have to resort to this sort of tactic.

Do you not understand that when Organization Z, which has set itself up as the Conscience_of_America with respect to recycling, says Company X is evil for using this practice and we certify that Company Y would never do that, that their assertion must be true?

But they didn't certify that Company Y would never do it, merely that the company pledged that they would not do it. Trusting businesses is the weakness in the pledge system, and that is why the group has discontinued the pledge program [e-stewards.org] in favour of a certification program. Yet another reason why the original blog post and /. summary appear to be making a mountain out of a molehill.

Perhaps the original blogger should have mentioned that the entire program had been superceded by something that would have more of a chance of preventing the e-waste exports. I said in my original post that the biased wording of the summary made me suspect that we were not being told the whole truth. Looks like I was right.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

ffreeloader (1105115) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444904)

My bad for not rtfa. I'm not going to register to read. However, even your criticism of my post makes my point.

The entire basis for Organization Z loudly criticizing Company X was based upon a process Organization Z knew, or should have known, to be completely worthless from the start. Their credibility is therefore dead, even if they assert they are changing their ways. I, for one, would never trust their "certification" as they've already shown their willingness to deliberately use flawed processes so there is nothing to say their "certification" process is worth any more than their pledge system.

It's like Al Gore going around claiming the sky is falling due to global warming while he's making untold millions off of global warming. He lost his credibility as soon as he put himself in position to make a fortune off what he's preaching. His conflict of interest is so large he makes his word worthless.

Re:I don't get it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34442050)

Many "recycling" companies don't actually recycle anything. They ship the waste to other countries.

These "Watchdog" groups apparently certified some companies as behaving well while criticizing non-certified companies for exporting waste.

And now it seems that many of the certified companies are exporting waste too.

Re:I don't get it... (1)

lawnsprinkler (1012271) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442104)

The summarist is trying hard to put political spin on the story. What it seems like is that some of the companies that made this pledge to recycle didn't follow through. He is putting the responsibility of enforcing the pledge on the "environmental watchdogs" and portraying a pledge that a company makes into a statement of approval from the "watchdogs". That jump in logic is clear just from the summary. The summarist is attempting to discredit environmental groups.

The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practices (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441458)

but I am confused by the summary.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441700)

but I am confused by the summary.

It would have been way more useful if they'd defined e-waste. I don't know about you but 90% of my confusion was that the summary used that term which I had never heard before, and once I figured it out the rest all made sense. We use the prefix "e-" in most other contexts to refer to things that exist in electronic form, and in this context people use it to refer to plain old meatspace waste that happens to come from electronics.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442254)

For those in the need to know, the recycling industry, this is since many years a well known acronym for Electronics Waste.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442656)

Like recycles electrons?

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444298)

For those in the need to know, the recycling industry, this is since many years a well known acronym for Electronics Waste.

Yes, but Slashdot headlines aren't written for the recycling industry. They're (supposedly) written for the average nerd and if the average nerd doesn't understand a term in the headline it should be defined in the summary.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443162)

Anyone who reads the stuff their trash pickup company mails to them knows what e-Waste is, but I guess you thought you were smarter than a bunch of garbage assholes and pitched it straight into the bin?

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444352)

Anyone who reads the stuff their trash pickup company mails to them knows what e-Waste is, but I guess you thought you were smarter than a bunch of garbage assholes and pitched it straight into the bin?

Wow, way to assume that people who don't know everything you know are stuck-up jerks, rather than simply people who've been presented with different information. You'll go far in life with that attitude.

FYI I don't have a "trash pickup company", but I've read everything the municipal waste department has ever mailed to me, especially about "e-Waste" disposal, and they don't use that term. I've taken several computers and several monitors to be recycled and the folks who take care of that don't use it either, at least not when talking to customers. I've read more than a handful of news articles about the matter, none of which referred to it as "e-Waste", but I guess I'm not as hip as your majesty, who seems to know how everything works everywhere in the world.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444644)

I've read more than a handful of news articles about the matter, none of which referred to it as "e-Waste", but I guess I'm not as hip as your majesty, who seems to know how everything works everywhere in the world.

Pretty much every article I read on electronic trash from the English speaking world refers to it as e-Waste, so if you truly haven't seen the term then you probably shouldn't be posting on the subject, because it's fucking impossible to avoid if you're paying the least bit of attention. Why do people who don't know shit bother to post except to ask questions? "Oh, I've never heard that, so it must be false, it can't possibly be that I have been hiding under a rock. I can't be crazy, it has to be everyone else."

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34445096)

Pretty much every article I read on electronic trash from the English speaking world refers to it as e-Waste,

Unless the articles you've read include every article ever written on the subject, this isn't really relevant to the articles I've read which were the topic at issue.

so if you truly haven't seen the term then you probably shouldn't be posting on the subject, because it's fucking impossible to avoid if you're paying the least bit of attention.

Or maybe I've been paying attention but the world is bigger than one person's individual experience, and in some places they don't use the same terminology?

"Oh, I've never heard that, so it must be false, it can't possibly be that I have been hiding under a rock. I can't be crazy, it has to be everyone else."

You're the only person in this thread who's using that sort of reasoning. Most importantly, I never said anything was false simply because I hadn't heard it; I said your statements about my city's waste disposal practices were false based on my direct experience to the contrary, which I believe I'm in a better position to speak on than you. On the other matters, my reasoning was of the form, "Oh, I haven't heard that, would you please explain?" Your reasoning was of the form, "I have never heard of discussion of this issue which didn't use this terminology, therefore such discussion doesn't exist." I'm sorry you have a complex which causes you to believe your limited experience automatically describes everything in the entire world, but that's really not my problem. The fact that many other posters expressed confusion about the summary shows that clearly what you regard as universal knowledge isn't as universal as you think it is.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (1)

RightSaidFred99 (874576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442118)

That's because it's inscrutable.

Literally the only reason I'm reading the comments is to see if people are as confused by that seemingly random string of words. I mean I know they form sentences, and I understand it involves something with waste (what the FUCK is e-waste?) and possibly the environment(?) but it's like one of those things you read about in scifi or fantasy books where as you read it it bewitches you into forgetting the last few words you just read.

Re:The watchdogs may be confused by E-waste practi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34442842)

Not only that, it's sensationalistic to the point of being wrong. Whatever "watchdog" the submitter/editor thought was being confused, wasn't, since they called out the company described in the article for "breaking their pledge" and now that company is "doing the right thing".

China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441472)

Rising nations sacrifice health and safety standards to decrease costs while increasing profits in doing business with established industrialized countries.

News at 11.

Re:China (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441584)

Actually it's illegal to dispose of waste in that fashion according to Chinese law. The problem though is that it's not particularly well enforced due to rampant corruption at the local level. If you really want to recycle electronics correctly, really the only way to be sure is to do it locally. That's not to say that the equipment doesn't exist in other countries, just that you don't really know that it's being handled correctly. Much easier to keep track of it if it doesn't leave the country until after it's been processed.

Re:China (4, Insightful)

fishexe (168879) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441710)

Actually it's illegal to dispose of waste in that fashion according to Chinese law. The problem though is that it's not particularly well enforced due to rampant corruption at the local level.

That seems to be the problem with all Chinese law.

Re:China (3, Insightful)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441790)

If you actually care about the environment, it's probably more productive to just bribe the correct Chinese officials to enforce their laws than to enact export bans or mandatory certification processes in the USA.

Re:China (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443518)

And you do you ensure that the bribe works? It seems more likely that they would take the bribe, keep taking bribes to ignore the law, and just (probably in collusion with some waste disposal companies) put up a few scapegoats periodically to give the impression that they were enforcing the law. They get more money, but the practice doesn't change apart from that.

Re:China (1)

aaronrp (773980) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444070)

If the problem were only China, maybe, but of course there are lots of even lower-regulation countries in the world.

Re:China (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#34445046)

True. Except China is where the world is currently doing business. Plus sending it to the middle of nowhere Africa, doesn't make any sense right now(except for a few companies). But the next industrialization push will be Africa, once China gets too expensive in 10-20yrs. That is providing we haven't suffered massive currency collapse, and currency devaluation by then.

Re:China (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442274)

Indeed, that's why the EU bans the export of any waste, it's just too hard to control the disposal or recycling once it's out of your jurisdiction.

That's why when we read about EU filth ending up in the third world it always got there through illegal exports and you can trace it back to the exporter and even harbour that facilitated it.

Re:China (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444654)

Sadly here's the dirty little secret of electronics exporters:

It's only "waste" if you call it "waste" both domestically (at least in North America) and internationally. That truck full of 20 year old monitors? That's electronics equipment for resale! Those electric meters with mercury switches in them aren't hazardous waste, they're a valuable finished product being shipped to a second hand market! It's scary and it's true, if a country allows the legal export of electronics and it's destination allows the legal import (i.e. every country in the world) it comes down to just how hard the customs inspectors are scrutinizing things and just how honest the operators at both ends are.

Re:China (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444670)

I get the impression that it's not just a problem on the local level given how widespread the practice is. It seems like a government that can spare troops ever time workers are pushing for better rights could find a few to watch ships being unloaded. It seems more likely to me that they've turned a blind eye to the problem because of the massive amount of natural resources that can be brought in this way and the only cost is pollution and health problems, something industrializing China has shown they have very little concern for.

Seems the root problem is pretty systemic (1)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441484)

Seems that in general, environmental problems in other countries simply go by "out of sight, out of mind." Solar panel production is another example of this.

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell what these days marketed as environmentally friendly is genuinely good for the environment and what is a marketing ploy by corporations getting on the latest bandwagon. Kudos to watchdog groups like this one that have a hope of exposing groups who are simply going for the bottom line.

the solution is distant. (2)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441500)

the ITER [iter.org] fusion reactor cant get done soon enough.

more funds towards science could help the world a LOT.

For San Francisco Bay Area (4, Informative)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441524)

One of the best places is ACCRC [accrc.org] . Usable stuff is refurbished for charity organizations, schools, etc. and the rest is handled responsibly and locally by ECS Refining [ecsrefining.com] in Santa Clara. Small fees are charged since this isn't as cheap/profitable as sending it overseas. But in the past they've taken stuff for free on Earth Day (April 22) so I save my small circuit boards and cables till then. The bottom line: do your own research. Especially if a recycler is eager to take anything and everything for free.

Re:For San Francisco Bay Area (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441594)

Depends where you are. I thought that CA had a fee that was attached to the purchase of things like monitors and computers to cover that. Up here, we make the manufacturers pay, the end result is largely the same the consumer pays, we just give the manufacturers more ability to find an efficient way of meeting our requirements.

Re:For San Francisco Bay Area (1)

Megahard (1053072) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441670)

Yes, CA has a fee attached to buying TVs and monitors (only) so ACCRC doesn't charge a fee for those as they get their money from the state.

ACCRC Rules. (2)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441904)

One of the best places is ACCRC [accrc.org] . Usable stuff is refurbished for charity organizations, schools, etc. and the rest is handled responsibly and locally by ECS Refining [ecsrefining.com] in Santa Clara

Unlike the "normal" e-waste companies who take hardware and ship it Chindifrica to places where kids melt components off PCBs over an open fire [google.com] , ACCRC actually does it right.

My God, has it really been 5 Thanksgivings since I wrote my Alice's Restaurant [slashdot.org] parody in response to a comment on a Slashdot post on "Whose Burden is it to Recycle Computers?" when the CA law came out.

The punchline to the joke is that less than two years after I wrote it, life imitated art [boingboing.net] . Officer Obie really did have a problem when someone took a big pile of garbage and turned it into something that a school could use, and it was only through the dumb luck of blind justice that the Judge didn't see it that way.

I've never had to pay a dime to ACCRC, but whenever I make a dropoff, I've always tossed a few bucks in as a donation, because I know that anything useful will get used - if not at a school, at least in an art project [makezine.com] , and the rest will be disposed of of safely and responsibly.

So we'll sing it again when it comes around on the guitar.

"Reuse any hardware you want from Natalie's Restaurant,
(excepting drives with .JPGs of Natalie)
Reuse any hardware you want from Natalie's Restaurant,
Monitors, just around the back,
Just a half a mile from the railroad track,
And you can get any grits you want at Natalie's Restaurant."

Do de do, dee de doo de doo...

Re:For San Francisco Bay Area (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441910)

Are there any similar organisations that will be willing to donate stuff to schools in the third world? A private school but with low fees and doing a lot of good for the town its in.

Re:For San Francisco Bay Area (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443688)

The gist of this story is that, unless you have personally audited ECS Refining, you really have no idea what they're doing with the stuff that they get.

What's next? (1)

puterg33k (1920022) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441716)


Welcome to the new business model in America. We spin it the way you want it, and then by the time you've bought it, it's entirely too late. The only people/persons without accountability are those who have money. Geeee, I wonder who made it that way, maybe those with money...? Just because most are like that doesn't mean all are.
I remember a time in which credibility was a virtue amongst men, or was that just my perception?
Let us tip our glasses at the new era: unscrupulous. Last one out turn the lights off...

Re:What's next? (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441954)

New era? We are deep in this shit for decades now. It might be nostalgia, but I guess the time of credible people in management positions was a very short one - after the robber baron capitalism was reigned in and before the globalized mega-capitalism was let loose. The only examples of businessmen with any moral fibre seem to stem from that period - and then only in owner-operated businesses.

Who benefits? (2)

Animal Farm Pig (1600047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441742)

E-Waste that gets shipped to China and other places, sometimes ends up handled by facilities without adequate worker protection and polluting the environment. The journo doesn't provide any real information of what percentage of waste ends up handled in this way and how much is handled in a responsible manner. Nor does he make any mention of how Chinese law regards these activities. China is mentioned only as a bogeyman.

Oh, look! Someone right here in the good old USA has found a solution! Yay! The Chinese bogeyman can be defeated! But, wait... there are some fly-by-night operators who don't want to embrace this triumph of American ingenuity. Obviously, those fly-by-night folks are just looking for a quick buck while the larger businesses are really looking out for the environment.

Therefore, we should pass some kind of law to prevent export of e-waste. The large businesses that can afford to vertically integrate (through capital expenditures on the machinery for e-waste processing [NB: Investment in jobs vs machinery is related to cost of labor {Where labor is cheap (China, global south), work is done by workers. Where workers are expensive (USA, EU, etc.), work is done by machines}]) obviously have environmental interests at heart (never commercial interests.)

So, the article offers a problem (hellish conditions in some places receiving electronics exports from the USA), and offers a solution (requiring the processing of waste in the USA). Who will benefit from this? The large, vertically integrated e-waste companies in the USA. Who will lose? 1) All of the small e-waste collectors who will now be forced to sell their raw e-waste to the large domestic operators, and 2) all of the foreign e-waste processing centers.

The end result would be that all e-waste would be processed through a small number very rich e-waste processors. The barrier to entry (through investment in machinery and whatever certification process they create) will be so high and the economies of scale so large that perhaps 3 big companies will be processing all US e-waste if it's export were banned.

How much do you want to bet that some actors in the e-waste marketplace who aspire to be larger processors put something in the ear of the journalist?

Re:Who benefits? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34442052)

What is sad is you are probably right about who is behind it and who will be harmed. Not everything is done for good cause. I wonder if it would be possible to support a market where more than a handful of non-large scale e-waste recyclers existed though? I mean who is going to design the machines? They machines probably only have to be designed once really. Chances are the person(s) designing them work for a company which design industrial automated machinery. That company then is going to sell to some other company which actually does the processing. The three e-waste processing companies are going to have a handful of centres in the USA. Other countries will probably have something similar setup thereafter once a business model is figured out. This law may not be as bad as it sounds for the environment. If it in fact does reduce environmental health hazards. The question is does it? I also have to wonder what happens to those whose health is now not harmed by these hazards. I imagine those most directed impacted worked on dismantling the used computers and melting them down. If they are now out of work will they be able to feed themselves or will these jobs just get placed with other similar or more dangerous jobs? What kind of impact does it have on the people living around them?

eWaste: Deposit your old bits here. (1)

edibobb (113989) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441788)

eWaste: Dispose your old bits here for recycling. Only you can prevent bitrot.

Me so solly! Me so solly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34441794)

Ah, so! Ah, so! Me frappy dickie!

Take personal responsibility for your E-waste (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441822)

I gave up using the "delete" key years ago, because I didn't want my discarded ASCII characters ending up in some landfill, leaching into the groundwater, or worse, drifting in the ocean, endangering the wildlife. So now, when I make a typo, I just "cut" the character(s) with ^X, and move it into a character composting file I keep for that purpose; when I need new characters, rather than create them from scratch, (with all the attendant resource losses) I simply move it from the composting file to whatever document I happen to be working on.

Recycling can make a difference, if you are willing to do your part!

As an eWaste recycle... (2)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441906)

The problem here is the same faced by any industry. Programs like eStewardship are voluntary programs and not subject to legal enforcement so the field is potentially ripe with opportunity to defraud your customers with higher processing fees for all the added expense of being green. It's largely a marketing tool on both ends and I'm sure there are plenty of people in the industry who see it as nothing but.

However, there are plenty of people who do take this very seriously, and it's unfortunate that our credibility is being tarnished. Sadly there's little that can be done about it, auditing processes will catch companies that merely don't meet the standards, but there's nothing that can be done about those who intentionally falsify records or aim for loopholes.

I can only recommend that those looking to be rid of their hardware do their due diligence, there's no reason a company shouldn't able be to provide a list of their downstream processors by name or offer you a tour of their facilities.

Re:As an eWaste recycle... (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441958)

That is why as soon as any industry proposes a voluntary self-regulation scheme, I instantly know they are big fat liars. Never has worked, never will. The majority of businesses within that industry will cheat, the few honest ones will get the disadvantage, in the end we have every major player cheating.

Re:As an eWaste recycle... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444598)

I think you're confusing industries that propose self regulation as an alternative to government regulation (the meat industry) with an industry that is in many cases actively pushing for greater government regulation and is already under the eye of the EPA, DOT, DNR, and OSHA for more things than you'd imagine.

They are not self regulating themselves to some legal standard, they are self regulating to a moral standard that is completely unenforceable by law.

More evidence (0, Troll)

ZDRuX (1010435) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441938)

[rant]
This is just more proof that all this "green" propaganda is nothing more than a ruse created to lure well intentioned people into accepting useless and rather expensive means to reduce waste for no other reason than to appease some sort of personal jealousy they have for using the earth's resources in ways that are frowned upon by some of these organizations that have seemingly popped up over night and are invading your towns and regulatory bodies all over the country.

Time and time again we see some "greenies" telling us how we have to live, and then they go off and do the exact opposite.. People like Al Gore and James Cameron come to mind as some of the big hypocrites.

Before I get flamebaited to death, keep in mind I'm referring to the white-collar business mogul types that stand to profit by imposing unnecessary regulations on small businesses and the general populace while escaping these same practices themselves by being crafty with the wording they use when lobbying for these kinds of regulations.

Don't be fooled into believing Al Gore really cares about the trees or the salamander population. These people have, generally - not cared about anything other than themselves. And I don't think "greenies" are particularly evil or sinister people, and I believe they have good will, but I fear they have been co-opted by the ones shrouding themselves in a veil of humanism and a promise of imminent doom unless we follow their lead.
[/rant]

Re:More evidence (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441966)

While I don't agree 100% with your sentiments, I did realize that there was something horribly wrong with the "green" movement in consumer goods while cleaning my toilet. I was using the same nasty cleaner as always, with an entire panel of the bottle covered in horrible shit that might happen if I don't follow the instructions... but this time it had an "eco-friendly" logo on the front. What the happy fuck does eco-friendly have to do with horribly caustic mint flavored shit-streak remover?

Re:More evidence (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442054)

What the happy fuck does eco-friendly have to do with horribly caustic mint flavored shit-streak remover?

It must not be that bad if you found out it tastes like mint and still capable of talking about it.

Re:More evidence (0)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443188)

What the happy fuck does eco-friendly have to do with horribly caustic mint flavored shit-streak remover?

I think "green" is stupid and "eco-friendly" is retarded but at least accurate, but please, it's clear that the cleaner can be more or less eco-friendly both before you get it (energy cost of production, byproducts) and once you have it in your hands (will it break down in the environment/primary sewage treatment?)

Are you trying to be funny? Because, no.

Re:More evidence (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444306)

The point was that it was the same exact product in the same bottle, with a new little logo and a blurb full of weasel words about perhaps helping the planet maybe. And I'm sorry you don't find my comments funny. I'll try to be dryer in the future.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34444518)

LIBERULS!!!!!!!eleventy

recycle it locally (2)

Dillenger69 (84599) | more than 3 years ago | (#34441944)

How about none of our e-waste leaves the country so we can reclaim as many of the rare earth elements as we can before handing things back to Asia.

retroworks confused by article (1)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442008)

Personally I thought the story was about the amount of corruption in businesses who did their best to hide all their dodgy practises.
Granted this isn't a tick for the watchdogs but don't make it out to be about poor business being attacked by greeny loonies.

Umm... (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442248)

Remember how we were all urged to use a 'Pledge' Signing company to properly recycle our old computers and televisions?

No?

mo3 0p (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34442400)

the good3Ill

Do as I say.. (1)

neumayr (819083) | more than 3 years ago | (#34442724)

..not as I do.

Not following ones own advise does not make the advise any worse. Those things should be judged by their content, not by messengers.

A quick Fix is possible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34442830)

Simply set up a national 'waste' site and allow these companies to bring the parts to there. Then require that any exports of goods that are not being re-used, be subject to approval. Now, some ppl will object to a 'waste' site, but what it really is, is more of a hold area until a prof or a company develops ways to recycle the goods. Keep in mind that while some nasty compounds are in these, there are also plenty of elements that are needed. REE are just some of these.

It won't let me. (3, Insightful)

Posting=!Working (197779) | more than 3 years ago | (#34443114)

I have mod points, but for some reason it won't let me mod the summary as troll.

There have been some bias in articles before, but this one goes off the hook. A scumbag company lies to everyone and scams them, but it's all the environmentalists fault for falling for the same scam everyone else did?

Re:It won't let me. (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34444984)

What's the point if the environmentalists don't do any kind of checking up on the companies?

Their support shouldn't be based on a pledge to do good, their support should be based on whether or not they are actually doing good.

Then said environmentalists want to be considered the experts on which companies are good for the environment.

What a joke.

This reminds me of the time Greenpeace was hit with massive fines for dumping waste of the US coast, which violates EPA regulations.

All activists are bad people (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34446392)

This just shows once again that activists don't really give a crap about their pet issue. They just use it as an excuse to go out and bully people. Their real interest is in hurting people.

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