OP ED: GPS Tracker Controversy Resurfaces #Monitour

Just a brief update about the 2016 reports (2) by Basel Action Network which claimed that their partnership with MIT Senseable City Lab demonstrated that 36% of USA E-waste is illegally -  and shamefully - exported.  When the first report came out, one year ago, we contacted MIT to question the following methodological concerns in the study.  MIT sent a disavowal and stopped appearing with BAN in the press, but the damage has been done.  BAN unmasked unwitting and unwilling participants and named names - even companies like mine that they know for a fact did not export the device they shipped to us.  Where there's smoke, someone should get fired.

1) 50% of waste - CRT TVs - were not tracked.  Probably because they are almost never exported. If they are never exported, the exported "findings" fall back into the 10%-20% range identified in several other studies.  It's the "blue-eyed basketball player fallacy" (selective sampling).  They tracked 30% of types of devices deemed likely exports, and found 36% of those were exported.

2) BAN covered up destinations which didn't fit their "primitive and shameful" narrative of overseas recycling.  Here is video from April '15, six months before our downstream USA recycler exported a printer we handled, of Hong Kong's legal EcoPark.  We found direct evidence that BAN erased the coordinates for this facility, and shared that on the blog and with MIT.

3) BAN misidentified legal repair and reuse as shameful exporting.  Two CRTs tracked in Pakistan ended up in a multi-story reuse shop a couple of blocks from Pakistan's largest tech university, in the same building that sells CRT analog converters (changing monitors to TVs).  Another data point that "disappeared" in BAN's second report appears to show a large SKD factory in Foshan.  If it isn't this factory, then why did BAN erase the datapoints in its second report?  In Fact, one of the SEATTLE devices exported (under investigation by Washington DEP) was in fact tracked through the site above, and is found in reuse in Tin Shui Wai (a city, not a rice paddy, in the New Territories).  BAN erased the datapoint, but it was shared with us by someone in Seattle, and we profiled the cover up here.

4) Whether or not the tampering and fallacies above were intentional, BAN's participation and funding and sharing data with E-Stewards who sponsor BAN financially are prima facia violations of MIT ethics rules on both conflict of interest and tracking of "unwitting and unwilling" human subjects.  If there was any question whether BAN was just following devices or was targeting unwitting and unwilling subjects in the first report release, that was released in the second, where BAN named me personally and my clients in Somerville, despite knowing that we did NOT export the device they tracked. Oh, and the Somerville site is a commercial office, not a publi drop off point... MIT undergrads had to ring a doorbell and get buzzed in to a building with no "recycling" sign.  At that point, MIT assigned its attorneys to the case and MIT Senseable City Lab issued a disclaimer and stopped commenting publicly on BAN's allegations.

5) We had direct tracking of exactly how much of our used electronics we qualify for direct or potential export.  It's under 10%.  We provided that information to MIT Senseable City Lab, who provided it to BAN before BAN issued the 2nd report ignoring that data.   The fact we could track that item without BAN's GPS was less interesting to us than the fact that an E-Steward who pays BAN handsomely cancelled our shipments of printer scrap for several weeks while the GPS tracker was in our building.  A source at MIT has privately confirmed the same suspicion, that BAN had active access to "live" devices and that it would have been simple to warn paying sponsors to avoid shipments containing the devices.

If anyone needed a track record for BAN's targeting of me personally, here is a reminder of a paid BAN staffer's characterization of me, personally, to a Chicago Patch reporter two years earlier, and BAN's public admission of the personal attack, and apology to me.

Whether funders like The Body Shop Foundation or researchers like Carlo Ratti of MIT Senseable City lab will ever partner with Basel Action Network again is an open question.   But they would be wise to track the history and reputation of the "watchdog" that barks at companies that don't pay them "certification fees" worth millions of dollars to stay silent, and to fund vicious racist attacks on innocent Tech Sector importers and exporters like "Hurricane" Joe Benson of the UK - the Tom Robinson of UK's witch hunt into fake news about Agbogbloshie distributed by BAN... falsehoods exposed by me months before BAN's report called me out in shameful light.

It's a shame that legitimate concerns exposed by the study can't now be pursued without airing false propaganda.   The fact our Massachusetts printer, sent to Chicago, didn't go to the place in Hong Kong described and approved (#2) and the reasons - legit or not - given to our downstream USA copy machine repair shop who exported it... all legitimate avenues to explore and learn from.  But those could have been pursued without "unmasking" the unwitting and unwilling participants, and without the 5 research fallacies described above.

I'm bringing this up because last week a Vermont Agency of Natural Resources staff person made a claim about my company and the GPS tracking which did not mention the legal R2 certified facilities in Hong Kong or EcoPark (video above), in defense of new Procedures which the Agency admits are directed at one company - mine.

Pharmaceutical Recycling 2: Rich Liability vs. Poor World Shortages

George Washington Carver Is Not Liable For Peanut Butter Allergies (he didn't even invent it)

In Part 1, I introduced this topic after opening a piece of mail telling us that a $500-something dollar epipen we own had reached its expiration date.  It made me curious whether the "obsolescence" of the pharmaceuticals equated to actual risk, and made me think about the different financial implications for wealthy, poor, stockholders, etc. And how the psychology of "greed and fear" is used as a persuader to advance the interests of those parties.  From Part 1:
In the case of an epi-pen, "less effective" is certainly a concern if you can afford a new one.  But if my kid starts to suffer a life-threatening peanut allergy reaction, I'm not going to check the date on his epi-pen.

What about "elective upgrade"? Can I sell my expired epi-pen, and buy a new one to satisfy my risk averse kin?  That reduces MY liability (to my son), but is my liability somehow "externalized" to poor people?
Hint:  No

But let's see how the Policy On Pharma Storage or Disposal (not recycling) is covering the exits.

Pharmaceutical Recycling: When 1st World Liability Means 3rd World Shortages

My  wife and I received a mail about a $500-something dollar epipen having reached its expiration date.  It made me curious whether the "obsolescence" of the pharmaceuticals equated to actual risk.

I found a decent 2012 Science-Based-Medicine journal article by Scott Gavura, seeking answers to the question, and found once-again that medical ethics are rich in direction for environmental ethics.  Human Health has been a concern for longer than Environmental Health.

So basically the article says that there is very little risk that expired medicine is bad for you.  It doesn't turn into poison (there was one possible case of that from a medicine that was long ago banned from the market... think of the liability if people died from not reading the date on your label).

When a new medicine is approved by FDA, no Pharma company can afford to then test it by putting it on the shelf for several years to determine its expiration date.  They do run tests on exposure to moisture and light, and use those to predict shelf life.  But like food, an open can of stuff doesn't stay good for as long as a closed can of stuff, so the expiration date is majorly affected by whether it is pre-consumer (unopened at a pharmacy) or post-consumer (excess from a once opened bottle).

And this is hot topic in Waste Policy... see all the national pharma take-back day events this month.

How We Knew About Apple's "Recycled Content" Plan 2 Years Ago!

Big announcement, just out, from Apple CEO - Apple will produce its electronics from 100% recycled material, not from virgin mining.

It's reported from Apple's just-released 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report.  It's bound to hit all the Earth Day news outlets this weekend.

Sourcing recycled content, creating a demand-pull effect, was what we were working on when I started at Massachusetts DEP in 1992.  It can be very big news.

Question:  How did I know about this almost 2 years before Apple's announcement?

Apple doesn't make its own stuff.  It's generally put together by a Shenzhen contract manufacturer like Foxconn or Wistron, which the blog has focused on many times.

Guess how we knew about Hong Kong EcoPark when we allowed a trial load of printers to go to Hong Kong - when our E-Steward downstream wouldn't pick up after several loads to their shredder?  When the BAN GPS Tracker was in our facility, and suddenly our shipments were mysteriously cancelled?

When I did background check on why Hong Kong would be paying for printer scrap again, before approving to the Chicago downstream replacing the E-Steward, I found that the $550M EcoPark tenants were sourcing scrap for plastic to be sold to a contract manufacturer in Shenzhen.   One who made devices with a major brand name label.