Collateral Damage 1: Data Journalism vs. Ewaste Politics of Personal Destruction

The best advice has proven out. Don't do what I did.  If the press isn't covering BAN's story, don't cause them to cover it by over-reacting to it.  Yesterday WasteDive called in reaction to the blog on the curious denial of a claim never made.

But I've long been in the business of "glasnost", and in the end I believe that serious researchers will learn more by the methods used by the "watchdog" than if I hold back.  This is the long game.  I'm betting that friends 10 years from now will appreciate honesty and integrity, even if the safer choice is to hide in the crowd.  And let me take personal credit for BAN's announcement that future tracking will be a) voluntary (e-Stewards), b) anonymously reported (no more singling out Robin), and c) won't send live lithium batteries that burst into flames at shredding companies.

I've already taken credit for BAN admitting state of the art [SoTA] facilities exist in Hong Kong.  LiTong Group was described and linked in this blog as an example of an Asian State of the Art modern facility which, I pointed out, was insulted by describing New Territories as "rice paddies".  In our May 10 letter to MIT, we described the $550M and $45M investments in EcoPark (the latter to LTG) as examples of modern and legal importing facilities.  Important to remember:  at that time we were demanding data that was being OBSCURED in Hong Kong.  We did not export to Hong Kong, period.  We did not claim WE had any connection to LTG.  We were saying that the profiling of Hong Kong recycling was biased.  And it was.

My May 2016 letter to MIT demanded our data (on the printer seen going from Boston to Vermont to Chicago to Hong Kong).  MIT SCL's Carlo Ratti denied having the data (see below).  We later learned MIT undergrads at Senseable City had rung the doorbell to deposit the tracked, sabotaged printer to our greater Boston client offices.  It was not a public drop off point.

Jim Puckett solves these mysteries in an email of August 16, and the text of the Scam report (left).  We requested an Ethics review at MIT, but have only heard back from their attorney so far (who seems like a nice person, see next blog on "Collateral Damage").

Here it gets a bit messy.

Now, completely separate from our investigation of BAN and MIT deployment data on the sabotaged printer ("our data" on "my tracked printer"), as a blogger I was provided data from a different Seattle non-profit - one quite similar to the one in Boston above.  That Seattle non-profit had been given the prescise, unobscured data through enforcement actions that were then underway by Washington State environmental regulators.

So we were now tracking two different devices to Hong Kong, one deployed on the East Coast (Printer to Chicago) and one no the West Coast (LCD from WA to California).

Unlike normal peer reviewed research, no one was making this easy.  "As BAN is in sole possession of the information and data that you request, we suggest that you contact BAN for the information."   Hmm.  I read that to mean it's a one-ways street, because we did NOT contact BAN for the information, but Ratti sent our 14 page letter and 2 page cover letter to Jim Puckett (according to Puckett).  So in the blog we wrote about the data we did have - the Seattle LCD travelling through EcoPark to Tin Shui Wai.

How did we think BAN would react to disclosures of modern high-tech recycling in China?  Been there.  Read the quote below, and ask what you'd expect BAN to "obscure" in the Monitour website designed by MIT SCL.

Remember 2012?  BAN specifically attacked me, ad hominem, to a Chicago Patch report for promoting "the myth that there are all these wonderful high-tech facilities in China."

This quote from BAN not only attacked "the myth of wonderful high-tech facilities" for recycling in Asia, it attacked me personally, "adding more harsh comments about Ingenthron's character".

If you follow, we requested the data that would have saved us a lot of time and shown the printer showed up in Mr. Lai's Printer Farm.  But between May and August, while we were refused that data,  some other data fell in our lap.   We were given coordinates of the Seattle LCD, and sent a letter to MIT about the coordinates about a wonderful high-tech facilities in Hong Kong, objecting to those facilities never being contacted by PBS @KCTS-9 etc.  Perhaps THAT's what BAN says we claimed went through LiTong Group - which appears quite plausible given the maps below.

It's a small world.   The "high tech facilities" I linked to came from a press release from  It appears to be one of the first jobs of Robert Mills, who (per LinkedIn) moved to NY from Seattle over the summer. A press release from LTG described a $45M investment into a wonderful high Tech recycling facility in Hong Kong in 2014... in Hong Kong's New Territories.

We tracked the data we had - the LCD from Seattle (repeat - not the printer from Boston) on its journey, via the coordinates no longer obscured in Hong Kong.   Compare the two screen shots from Monitour and Google Maps of the site in Yuen Long (New Territories HK) below.... Pillar Point, home of EcoPark, Yuen Long, New Territories, Hong Kong.

So BAN is putting two and two together and getting three.  Seattle's LCD goes through EcoPark and apparently gets reused.  Chicago's printer doesn't, is diverted to a scrapyard, and winds up at the "printer farm".  Vermont never exported anything.  But had we been given an LCD and shipped it to Seattle rather than shipped a printer to Chicago, it might have been different.  We'd still have nothing to do with the outcome, and the question becomes how did BAN decide to profile yours truly (and my client) for 2 pages when we did neither?  The point is what is BAN hiding in the obscured data, and what is MIT's role beyond having undergraduates "deploy" devices at unwitting, unwilling, private drop off points?

BREAKING: Li Tong Group Disputes BAN Claims

UPDATE:   We left multiple messages with Mr. Robert Knoll Mills of and sent emails without reply, asking his source of information that Good Point ever exported any device at all, much less claim to have exported directly to Ti Tong Group.   

This just breaking.  Li Tong Group, an R2-certified Electronics Recycler in Hong Kong, reacts to BAN controversy.

Two odd things about the story.  First, Good Point Recycling never claimed to have exported to LTG, period.  In fact, Good Point and BAN agree that Good Point never exported to Hong Kong at all. Period.  What we said here is that BAN's impugning of "exports" failed to distinguish whether devices are managed in "primitive rice paddies" or State of the art recycling plants, and that painting everyone overseas as "illegal" was basic racial profiling.

Environmental Business Newswire reports:

Good Point Recycling identified Li Tong Group as one of two (with Top Faith Group) R2 certified recyclers in Hong Kong which were impugned by BAN/MIT GPS Tracking Study.  This blog tracked one device from Seattle- which BAN reported to Washington regulators as illegal - as apparently travelling through LTG's site in EcoPark, and winding up near a high rise complex (Tin Shui Wai) in the New Territories.   That path is tracked here [ed. it does NOT begin on the East Coast].

We also clearly said to MIT (who shared the document with BAN) that we had sent printers to the Chicago area for most of that quarter 2015.   We specifically sent loads to Janesville WI and to Wehawken IL.  Of the two USA recyclers we used, the more obvious one would be ARCOA which actually identified R2 recyclers (like Li Tong and TFG) in its downstream diligence.  But we told BAN that without our data we can't say for sure, and that the path of the printer had been partially obscured on Monitour.

Now BAN is telling press that we said our printer was exported by us (WRONG) to Li Tong Group (WRONG).  We sent it to Chicago.  Li Tong Group appears to have received an LCD from Washington State.

Any long time reader of this blog knows that we are against racial profiling.  We came out strongly against BAN's profiling in May of Hong Kong recyclers as illegal and primitive and "rice paddies" and we showcased the EcoPark where LTG has offices as an example of a recycler which is beyond reproach.

Had we not, in this blog, highlighted the state of the art recyclers in Hong Kong, BAN would not have been forced to issue this disclaimer.

BAN MIT MoniTour Teardown: Inside the Ewaste Export Controversy

The MIT MoniTour @KCTS-9 Basel Action Network "Expose on Exporting" #trackingewaste is still being reviewed by review researchers, recycling experts, and reporters.  Memorial University has helped plot final landing points for devices.  There are still a large number of items in places that BAN can't quite explain.  [There are data points missing, which we located on Monitour but are not in the table per MUN]

- There are good places overseas (BAN now says "never said there weren't")
- People who never exported are highlighted for political reasons (BAN says it's justified)
- BAN's own math suggests 11% total exports (good or bad end points)
- BAN's conclusion (use E-Stewards) belies BAN's financial interest

As one of the people who never exported the tracked device, but whose clients were assaulted by BAN's innuendo, I've got a particular axe to grind.  But Jim Puckett has told a reporter directly what I inferred from the article - that I came up with EcoPark and Li Tong Group to cover up my shipment to Mr. Lai's Printer Farm.  That made me mad, and I shouldn't type when I'm mad.

BAN made a very legitimate point via their GPS tracking study - that despite normal diligence, we should not assume for sure material exported to Asia won't go "sideways" to a scrap metal vendor (any more than we can assume that via E-Stewards).  But Jim Puckett tries to push the point too far, and in so doing damages the names and reputations of state of the art repair geeks overseas, Boston area MIT hippy coops, Vermont ADA employees, and legitimate discussion of environmental policy.

Perhaps Jim yielded to his frustration and inability to control the story in a tidy direction, and now has injured people that shouldn't be injured.  He needlessly involved innocent MIT students, Carlo Ratti, KCTS, and The Body Shop Foundation in a pissing match over environmental justice.  Jim simply needs to say "I'm sorry".   Again.

Watchdog Issues Apology For Personal Attacks in E-Waste Article

Jim documenting CRT glass was not exported as he claimed (AZ)

Short Post: Smelters and Financial Assurance.

Want to try something new.  Brief brilliant posts. Easy to read.

I've got totally bogged down by and MIT. I have pages and pages of unposted blogs defending me and my clients.  

Totally quick brilliant blog post starts now.
Primary copper, zinc and lead smelters can use CRT cullet instead of feldspar, galena, angelsite.
See my article on why they don't (Time out of Mined)
If the smelters are making a rational decision not to use the CRT cullet as fluxing agent (because of the multimillion, even billion dollar fines history with EPA over Superfund sites), then they need smaller secondary smelters, like NuLife, to manage it.
NuLife and other micro-smelters, which turn CRT glass into lead feedstock, need affordable closure plans.
So the primary smelters - Doe Run, Teck Cominco, Glencore, Southern Copper, Penoles, etc. - which individually could accept 200 tons per day of CRT glass but don't want to - should offer to take NuLife material under a closure plan.  A one time clean out situation, they take 60 days of recycled cullet.
EPA would never bother them, they'd be bailing EPA out of an undesirable closure situation.
The smelters would be paid for the "insurance" value.  They get say $20,000 per year just to SAY they WOULD take it if the closure was invoked.

The NuLife micro-smelter can make a significant contribution to USA's e-waste problem.  This is totally a smidge compared to the mining and primary smelting business, but EPA and environmentalists are obsessed with it.
To find out why, you have to read some of the 1,867 older longer blogs.  It's guilt, liability, psychology stuff.

BAN can free my genius to create more solutions if they stop being absolute pricks to people like Joe Benson, Li Tong Group, Net Peripheral, and my clients in Boston.