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UK Man Sentenced To 16 Months For Exporting 'E-Waste' Despite 91% Reuse 212

Posted by Soulskill
from the be-careful-not-to-solve-problems-without-the-express-consent-of-government dept.
retroworks writes: The Guardian uses a stock photo of obvious electronic junk in its coverage of the sentencing of Joseph Benson of BJ Electronics. But film of the actual containers showed fairly uniform, sorted televisions which typically work for 20 years. In 2013, the Basel Convention Secretariat released findings on a two-year study of the seized sea containers containing the alleged "e-waste," including Benson's in Nigeria, and found 91% of the devices were working or repairable. The study, covered by Slashdot in Feb. 2013, declared the shipments legal, and further reported that they were more likely to work than new product sent to Africa (which may be shelf returns from bad lots, part of the reason Africans prefer used TVs from nations with strong warranty laws).

Director of regulated industry Harvey Bradshaw of the U.K. tells the Guardian: "This sentence is a landmark ruling because it's the first time anyone has been sent to prison for illegal waste exports." But five separate university research projects question what the crime was, and whether prohibition in trade is really the best way to reduce the percentage of bad product (less than 100% waste). Admittedly, I have been following this case from the beginning and interviewed both Benson and the Basel Secretariat Executive Director, and am shocked that the U.K. judge went ahead with the sentencing following the publication of the E-Waste Assessment Study last year. But what do Slashdotters think about the campaign to arrest African geeks who pay 10 times the value of scrap for used products replaced in rich nations?
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UK Man Sentenced To 16 Months For Exporting 'E-Waste' Despite 91% Reuse

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  • This is surprising. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sd4f (1891894) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @08:58PM (#47290799)

    I've got a Nigerian neighbour (I live in Australia) who fills containers with electronics and sends them to Africa. I spoke to him about it and he said that they repair the stuff there, and reuse most of it. Considering that the analogue TV signal was switched off last year, and essentially all CRT TV's don't work, a lot have been dumped on streets, and they naturally been picking them up for free.

    So it's surprising that they so blatantly claim that they're dumping them, when I can hardly see the sense in spending the money on shipping containers half way across the globe, only to dump it there, when it has already been dumped here. Clearly there's some thing going on which the business world isn't particularly keen on. If this person jailed was being paid to dispose of garbage and he was just dumping it in countries that don't care about dumping, then that's a different matter, but I get the feeling that our garbage is somewhat more valuable in developing countries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @09:10PM (#47290865)

    Valuable components for repair of other TVs can be easily desoldered from irreparably broken TVs. This would reduce the environmental load in today's world when the planet is already overloaded.

    On the other hand how to dispose of the rest when the country doesn't have proper facilities for that.

    I think the question whether something is waste or not and whether its good or bad to export it to third world countries is pretty complicated.

    I wonder if it would be illegal to mass desolder second hand electronic components and send them to the third world country for the purpose of repair of broken TVs (regardless of questions of economy or component reliability).

    If containing broken pieces makes a shipment illegal - if a manufacture ships a container of new TVs and some of them are defective, is it classified as illegal export of waste and the manufacturer goes to jail for 16 months?

    Karel Kulhavy, Twibright Labs [twibright.com]

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @09:10PM (#47290869)

    These TVs are waste because they are not digital, the countries they are going to are probably a long way from going digital.

    CRTs also hold up to the elements much better, and some places do not have 24hr AC. Or any AC. (Air conditioning, not power)

  • Re:And yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bing Tsher E (943915) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:35PM (#47291399) Journal

    Dell has a program here where I live to destroy all computers that are donated to Goodwill. It doesn't matter if it's two years old or ten years old, if you donate a PC to Goodwill, Dell has a bounty on it and off it goes to the shredder.

    I'd hardly call it a 'green' program. It's Dell insuring that there isn't a strong secondary market for PCs. It's heartbreaking sometimes to see the nice new keyboards, mice, and displays come out on the sales floor, and know that recent-vintage machines were probably donated with them.

    Oh, and it's because the bogey-man would get the 'information' on the hard drives. And... and... and... somebody might install something from Microsoft on the machines that they didn't properly pay for... or worse... something other than Microsoft.

Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty.

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