Friday, March 26, 2010


They didn't pay me to post this--but it's a greenish search engine--Toby

Go to

What Is Ecosia About?
Ecosia is an eco-friendly Internet search engine backed by Yahoo, Bing and the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF). It basically works like any other search engine but, unlike others, Ecosia gives at least 80% of its advertising revenue to a rainforest protection program run by the WWF.
Because of this, Ecosia users can save about two square meters of rainforest with every search they do – without paying anything. Furthermore, all Ecosia servers run on green electricity, so they do not cause any CO2 emissions. By using Ecosia, you can turn your web searches green.
How Does Ecosia Generate Income?

Yahoo and Bing not only help us to provide excellent search results; they also supply us with the sponsored links that we need to generate advertising revenue. Sponsored links are short, relevant text ads, which are placed by companies aiming to sell their products and services to users of the search engine. Companies pay for each click on their sponsored link and every click on these ads generates a few cents of revenue for the search engine.
About 2% of Ecosia searches lead to a click on a sponsored link. Doing a mixed calculation of normal clicks and clicks on sponsored links, Ecosia earns about 0.13 Euro cents per search. We donate at least 80% of this income to the WWF. Thanks to these donations, we can save about two square meters with every search.
How Does Ecosia Save The Rainforest?
Ecosia does not conduct the rainforest protection scheme itself; instead we donate to a rainforest protection program run by the WWF. The current WWF project is located in Juruena National Park in the Amazon region of Brazil. Click here to learn more about the current rainforest protection project.
Why Should I Use Ecosia?

Every year a rainforest area larger than England is burned or cut down. Therefore the deforestation of the tropical rainforests is the single most important source of CO2 emissions in the world and about 20% of all global CO2 emissions are caused by rainforest deforestation.
Each Ecosia search protects a piece of rainforest, so by making Ecosia your search engine, you can actually help the environment one search at a time. An average internet user can protect about 2,000 square meters of rainforest every year by using Ecosia – this is about the size of an ice hockey field.
By making Ecosia your default search engine, you can turn your web searches green, reduce your carbon footprint and make a real difference to the planet. Instead of causing CO2 emissions with your searches, you can actually help to avoid climate change because your searches will help to save endangered rainforests.
Ecosia is also the best choice if you are concerned about privacy. Some search engine companies store your web searches for several months and even analyze them to create a profile of you. They sometimes even sell this information to other companies. Ecosia, in contrast, deletes all user-related data within a maximum of 48 hours.
How Can I Make Ecosia My Search Engine?

Whenever you want to search with Ecosia, you can simply go to the Ecosia homepage, type in your search terms and click the search button.
However, there is also a more convenient way to use Ecosia. Just click on the “install” link at the bottom of the Ecosia homepage and the Ecosia search will be added to your browser. You can then conveniently type your searches into your browser’s search box, so you don’t have to visit the Ecosia homepage every time you want to search for something. Once you have installed Ecosia, you can also see how much rainforest you have already saved.
Help To Spread The Word!
If you like Ecosia, we would be delighted if you recommend us to others. Since we donate most of our revenue, we cannot afford to spend much money on advertising. So we need YOU to spread the word. Please click on the “share” link to see how you can help spread the Ecosia gospel. We would dearly appreciate your help.
Remember that every new Ecosia user helps to save about 2,000 square meters of rainforest every year. If only 1% of global internet users accessed Ecosia for their web searches, we could save a rainforest area as big as Switzerland every single year. Together we can really make a difference!

movie studios and e-waste

Movie Studios Make Strides In Diverting Waste, Recycling Sets
Filed under: film-tv, green and famous, movies — Luke Warner July 13 2009 ecorazzi

A recent report shows that movie studios have diverted 63% (40.2 million pounds!) of their solid waste (read: sets and the like) to recycling processes rather than landfills. Because of these efforts, they’ve reduced emissions by an amount equal to removing 7,315 cars from the road, according to an April press release from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

This news slipped under the radar, as press releases from something called the “Solid Waste Task Force” are bound to. This group is actually a rather exciting and relevant joint program of the MPAA and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, created with the goal of combating climate change and reducing Hollywood’s ecological footprint.

The MPAA also featured highlights of the recent green practices of a some major studios. Hit the jump below for some of the best:

Disney has created an Environmental Steward position on every live-action film to coordinate best environmental practices.

Fox has bought 4 5-ton hybrid trucks for production use. Emissions will be 60% lower than a standard 5-ton diesel.

During the very green creation of the film Wolverine, recycling information was printed on the call sheets, food waste was diverted to a local farm, and water dispensers were used instead of water bottles.

All of Disney studios DVD and Blu-Ray packages are now 100% recyclable.

Warner Bros. has completed Stage 23, their new LEED building equipped with efficient lighting, cooling technology to ensure minimal consumption at peak times, environmentally preferable construction materials, non-toxic paints and concrete with the highest fly ash component, along with many other eco-friendly choices.

It’s great to see the MPAA and the studios taking some real steps to reducing waste, increasing efficiency and creating a more sustainable industry. It’s a shame that this info wasn’t carried by the mainstream press. Looks like there’s still more work to do…

ecorazzi on 3-d glasses

25 march 2010

Whether people enjoy the experience or not, studios are seeing big green dollar signs by expanding films to include 3D versions. The extra dough people are coughing up for the feature is boosting profits substantially. Avatar raked in more than 70% of its take through 3D — with an average ticket price north of $13.50.

As we mentioned earlier in the year, all this demand is creating waste from used 3D glasses; something theaters have attempted to combat with aggressive recycling efforts. With more than 10 millions pairs of glasses shipped to movie theaters across the globe for each 3D movie, however, recycling makes but a small dent in what eventually heads to the landfill.

One company named Cereplast has found an answer to keeping waste low by creating the world’s first biodegradable and compostable 3D glasses. They’ve partnered with a company called Oculus3D, which makes 3D film projection technology, to introduce the green shades this summer in theaters around the country. According to a release, If discarded at a compost site, the 3D glasses will return to nature in less than 180 days with no chemical residues or toxicity left in the soil.

The benefits are huge. Traditional 3D glasses are made from fossil fuel-based plastic and are not biodegradable. The CO2 emissions for the more than 10 million plastic glasses is equivalent to the harmful emissions generated by burning 50,000 gallons of gasoline or 917 barrels of oil.

We hope the Cereplast glasses take off and replace the standard variety quickly. We love arrows and sharks flying in our face at the theater — but it would be nice knowing that such a cheap thrill doesn’t carry with it a big price for Mother Earth.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Uganda reverses PC recycling policy as Kenya imposes ban
Michael Malakata
22.03.2010 kl 20:51 | IDG News ServiceA A A
While Uganda is planning to reverse its ban on imports of used computers, Kenya is joining Zambia in prohibiting what authorities allege are old PCs being dumped on their markets by developed countries.

While Uganda is planning to reverse its ban on imports of used computers, Kenya is joining Zambia in prohibiting what authorities allege are old PCs being dumped on their markets by developed countries.

The Kenyan Ministry of Information and Communication has proposed that the treasury include in next year's national budget a ban on used computers, while the Zambian government is also pushing for a similar ban to be imposed. The Kenyan and Zambian governments claim the bans are aimed at curbing dumping and encouraging local assembling of computers. M-mobile is one Zambian company that is about to start manufacturing computers locally.

However, the Ugandan government has backtracked on its earlier decision to impose an indiscriminate ban on used computers, claiming the country is now adopting a more targeted approach to the implementation of the ban to focus on technology that is more harmful to the environment. The Ugandan government said not all secondhand computers are harmful, and that only those that use technologies that are harmful to the environment will be banned in the country.

Most computers and other ICT equipment being exported to Africa from Europe and the U.S. cannot be upgraded or repaired and are carelessly disposed of because most African countries lack capacity to dispose of them in an environmentally friendly way, government officials say.

"We want imported old computers to be banned because we have to protect the environment from toxic waste resulting from unsafe disposal of these computers," said Zambian Deputy Minister of Communication and Transport Mubika Mubika last week.

Ugandan Minister of State of Trade Tourism and Industry Gagawala Wambuzi said the issue is not that all secondhand computers are bad, but that the Ugandan government wants to phase out those computers that are harmful to the environment, including the new ones that use such technologies.

The decision to reverse the indiscriminate ban on the importation of used computers less than a year after the policy was introduced shows that policymakers in Uganda want more people to be computer-literate. Most lawmakers also want more schools to be equipped with computers.

In the 2009/2010 national budget, Uganda's minister of finance and economic planning, Syda Bbumba, banned the importation of all used computers, freezers, refrigerators and television sets -- effective June 2009 -- but the deadline for traders to clear their stock has twice been shifted after they protested the decision. The deadline was later extended to March 31, 2010.

The announcement by the Ugandan minister to ban imports of old computers attracted criticism from dealers and organizations, who called the decision unrealistic since it did not specify the technology but the age of the item to be banned. Dealers in imported old computers and other reconditioned electronics have since been pushing the Ugandan government to review the ban.

Zambia and Kenya feel that developed countries are dumping used computers that cannot even be repaired once they break down. In 2008, the Kenyan government introduced a 25 percent duty on all used computer imports that was aimed at reducing the imports of used computers and encouraging local assembly as a means of creating jobs and limiting e-waste.

But despite the introduction of a tax by the Kenyan government, more used computers are still being imported into Kenya by dealers. The Kenyan government said it is now proposing a complete ban on imports of used computers. Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo said last week that over the years, "the Kenyan government incentives have made new computers affordable, adding that there was no need for imports with short life span that have led to accumulation of e-waste."

A study that was conducted in Kenya two years ago indicated that the country accumulated 3,000 metric tons of e-waste from computers, monitors and printers in 2007. This year, the Kenyan government announced a 1 million laptop campaign where it was to guarantee interests on loans borrowed from commercial banks for buying a new laptop or personal computer (PC).

Zambia and other African countries have not had laws on how to dispose of used ICT equipment. The countries have policies that state that all ICT equipment being imported or exported must meet international standards and the health requirements of users. However, many companies in Africa fail to adhere to the policy, raising fears of health and environmental damage due to hazardous toxic waste.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ecorazzi re avatar

Avatar Release To Kick Off Million Tree Planting Initiative
Michael d'Estries @ 8:52 pm

March 23rd 2010

While we’re not sure if anything about the DVD itself will be green, we’re happy to announce that Twentieth Century Fox isn’t just using Earth Day as it’s marketing bitch for Avatar. At a press conference today, the studio and its billion-dollar director James Cameron announced a partnership with the Earth Day Network to plant one million trees in honor of the film by the end of 2010.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to share the environmental messages from AVATAR through the efforts during the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day and with Earth Day Network,” said James Cameron. “Earth Day Network’s commitment and actions to promote a healthy, sustainable planet go hand-in-hand with the themes of AVATAR.”

The non-profit, which is committed to caring for and nurturing the trees to maturity, will plant native species in more than 15 different countries. Natural disasters such as fires and landslides will also be considered during the planting process.

“AVATAR sends a universal message about the danger of exploiting our natural resources and brings to the forefront of the global consciousness the need to protect our planet and humanity, said Kathleen Rogers, President, Earth Day Network. “We hope this commitment from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to plant one million trees, will inspire others to stand up against climate change for Earth Day.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

further evidence, if any were needed--

Internet 'threatens' rare species

The internet has emerged as one of the biggest threats to endangered species, according to conservationists who are meeting in Doha, Qatar.

Campaigners say it is easier than ever before to buy and sell anything from live baby lions to polar bear pelts on online auction sites and chatrooms.

The findings were presented at the 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).

Several proposals to give endangered species more protection were defeated.

Delegates will vote on changes to the trade in ivory later this week.

Web effect

"The internet is becoming the dominant factor overall in the global trade in protected species," Paul Todd of the International Fund for Animal Welfare was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency.

He said thousands of endangered species are regularly traded on the internet, as buyers and sellers take advantage of the anonymity - and vast global market - the world wide web can offer.

Those trying to police illegal sales say the size of problem is almost impossible to estimate. They say the US is the biggest market, but that Europe, China, Russia and Australia also play a large part.

On Sunday, delegates voted to ban all international trade in a rare type of Iranian salamander, the Kaiser's spotted newt, which the World Wildlife Fund says has been devastated by the internet trade.

But more high-profile attempts to ban trade in polar bears, bluefin tuna and rare corals have all failed, leaving environmental activists dismayed, the BBC's Stephanie Hancock reports from Doha.

A proposal from the US and Sweden to regulate the trade in red and pink coral - which is crafted into expensive jewellery and sold extensively on the web - was defeated.

Delegates voted the idea down mostly over concerns the increased regulations might impact poor fishing communities.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/03/21 23:56:57 GMT

--and again

2010:Clean tech gets PE traction
Chanpreet Khurana
Posted online: Mar 21, 2010 at 2214 hrs

It all began with a defunct laptop. Rohan Gupta, who was chief operating officer of Cinesprite Entertainment then, wanted to know what he could get for his four-year-old machine in Bangalore’s second-hand market. A less than satisfactory offer led Gupta to explore what happens to a computer after it is disposed of. A lot of ground research, interviews with government officials, people from industry and companies abroad that dealt in electronic waste management later, Rohan, along with his older brother Nitin, incorporated Attero Recycling, an electronic-waste management company, in 2008. India generates over four-lakh tonnes of e-waste every year, most of it recycled, reprocessed by unorganised players in a very unhealthy and environment-unfriendly manner. Starting the company on the premise of grabbing some share away from the unorganised sector was the easiest part.

Gupta remembers, though not fondly, the early days of Attero, and the grilling sessions he had with potential investors at a time when clean technology wasn’t a hot investment sector even with private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) players, who thrive on spotting a trend early and getting in when valuations are low. “Investors want to know what the potential of the idea is and how quickly it is likely to boom. Also, it helps if the entry barrier is high and not too many competitors can mushroom overnight,” explains Gupta. Finally, last year, Attero Recycling received $6.3-million (around Rs 28.9 crore) in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DfJ) and NEA-IndoUS Ventures.

For Attero’s funding pitch, the brothers collated data such as the amount of electronic waste generated nationwide, the likely increase in this figure even in the short term, market research on what technologies were available for shredding and metal separation and which ones could be imported. “Who we are and our training also helped,” says Gupta, a chemical engineer. Nitin Gupta has studied electronic engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and is also an alumnus of the Stern School of Business, New York University.

Attero currently handles 300-400 tonnes of electronic waste every year, a minuscule proportion of the total 4,40,000 tonnes generated in the country every year. With the ‘green agenda’ finding roots across global businesses in the aftermath of the United Nations’ Copenhagen Climate Conference last year, many experts opine that 2010 may, perhaps, turn out as a watershed year for clean technology investments in India.

A cusp year

Says Mohanjit Jolly, executive director, DfJ, “2010-11 is going to be seen as the time when clean technology investments really start happening in India in a meaningful way, especially from the VCs’ side.” Increasingly, companies—both potential investors and service providers—are looking to tap the sector as a viable and scaleable business opportunity. Indian Venture Capital Association president Mahendra Swarup says last year the clean technology sector in India attracted at least $160 million in private equity and VC funds, despite “limited opportunities”. Factors such as increased awareness after the Copenhagen Summit and policy decisions such as the proposal to institute a national clean energy fund, too, are promising signals for the industry.

VCs had been studying the sector for two or three years, and since Copenhagen, the sector has become top of the mind. While investments in larger projects by PE funds have taken off in the last year or two, it is only in the past six to nine months that smart ideas that need low initial investment and promise great returns have started to emerge.

Nexus Venture Partners’ Manoj Gupta sees significant changes in the clean technology sector over the next couple of years. “The sector has seen traction in the last three to five years. Until now, some of these companies were sub-scale and are only now getting to a level where we (VCs) are getting excited,” he says.

The VC firm, which makes investments in the $3-5-million bracket, last year put $3 million into D.light Designs, a company that makes solar-powered lanterns and has a presence in India and African countries such as Tanzania. Gupta, an avid blogger on clean technology and an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, says 10-15% of the fund’s portfolio may be dedicated to the sector over the next two years.

Another promising factor from a VC’s point of view, according to Jolly, is that some of the innovations are in areas such as power generation, which is an “influential catalyst for growth as a whole”. The chances, then, of governments working towards an enabling policy framework for new technologies and innovations are greatly enhanced.

This expectation is shared by others in the industry, and was acknowledged in finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget 2010-11 speech, in which he proposed setting up a national clean energy fund to facilitate research and innovative projects in clean energy technologies. Clean technology businesses, too, expect to get a leg-up from a policy framework that promotes sustainable practices. Attero’s Rohan Gupta cites the example of a 2001 notification that categorises e-waste as hazardous material that should only be disposed of by authorised recyclers. “India is a price-sensitive country. A push from the government will help,” he adds.

Different businesses, different funding models

Interest in clean technology opportunities has clearly been on the rise in the last six months, according to Subir Das, managing director of India operations at, a not-for-profit entity. He adds that the number of enquiries his company has been receiving on the clean technology projects that are underway is on the increase, as are requests for research and analysis into specific projects and country risks. “There are investors who are processing opportunities in sectors such as solar energy, waste to electricity generation and water management projects right now, and they could announce deals as soon as three to four months,” he says.

There are three broad categories of clean technology companies, and corresponding investment models, in India currently. The first kind of investment is project-based. This is a one-off, localised play in, say, setting up the infrastructure for a biogas plant. This is usually a capital-intensive proposition with benefits limited to that one project. VCs typically look for projects and technologies that have applications beyond one hub, and so these one-off kind of projects attract more PE funds that bring with them somewhat larger corpuses to invest. This segment comprises the bulk of clean technology companies, and investments, in India at present.

The second category is businesses that import technology and then Indianise it. The challenge here is not so much one of developing intellectual property, but of adapting, implementing and scaling it up—”take something that works and implement it here” kind of model— elaborates DfJ’s Jolly.

Attero Recycling can be classified into this segment. While the company has sourced some of the key ingredients and technologies required for shredding from US-based suppliers, it has Indianised the business model to suit the domestic market conditions.

The third kind are the companies involved in innovative play, the intellectual property, research and development sharks. “It’s a sort of 70-20-10 split,” adds Jolly, who is also on the board of Attero Recycling.

Wheat from chaff

To be sure, there still remain some hurdles in the path to fully realising the potential of the sector to tap VC funding. These include problems such as limited investment opportunities, and lack of clarity on valuation and, therefore, difficulty in developing a clear exit strategy.

When Karan Gupta first conceived of launching Breathe India Ventures, a start-up fund with a focus on clean technologies, in February 2009, he had a hard time convincing people the idea would work. He recounts that the first order of business was really to objectively view what were the attractive enterprises from an investor’s point of view. “Majority of the companies were pure hype. It’s not surprising that the numbers (data on deals for previous years) don’t reflect the growing interest,” explains Gupta.

Contrary to expectations, Gupta says setting up shop during a year when large parts of the Western world were still reeling from the effects of a recession did not present too many challenges. The quantum of funding for clean technology from investors in countries such as the Netherlands did slow, but the bigger problem remains a supply-demand mismatch. The industry is still in its nascent stages here, according to Gupta, and so there are few proven models for viable, scaleable ventures. “The general feeling is there are too many investors running after too few investees.”

According to Swarup, while the global financial crisis did slow investments in long-term projects such as clean technology, another reason for fewer investments was the dearth of good investment opportunities. “Clearly, things are getting better,” he says.

“Relative to two years ago, more interesting ideas are emerging. But in absolute terms that number has to become more meaningful,” adds Jolly.

more news from india

India’s Poor Recycle World’s E-Waste into Wealth

India West/ New America Media, News Feature , Sunita Sohrabji, Posted: Mar 20, 2010 Review it on NewsTrust

DHARAVI, Mumbai -- Sitabai’s workshop is the first point of entry into Sanola compound, a vast recycling vortex here in the midst of one of Asia’s largest slums.

Her tiny kohli is reached by crossing over a garbage ditch. An open sewer snakes its way past the entrance to her home.

The mother of three girls and grandmother to two more squats on her haunches amidst floor-to-ceiling piles of large gunny sacks filled with all manner of waste, including plastic cups, broken toys, music cassettes, computer keyboards, old modems and cell phones, brought to her by wastepickers – known as kabadiwallahs – who scour India’s cities looking for materials that can be reused.

Like many Dharavi residents, Sitabai is a migrant. She came to Mumbai from Karnataka as a young bride, captivated by the idea of living in what is often called the “city of dreams.” Her husband was a mill worker, but passed away several years ago, leaving Sitabai as the sole provider for her family. Her tiny salary of $63 a month, meager by even local standards, has nevertheless bankrolled the weddings of her three daughters.

Electronic waste boyYoung Boy Against Mountain of E-Waste
Photo credit: Kainaz AmariaDharavi, the slum immortalized in director Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,” is home to an estimated 800,000 people who live in an area of less than one square mile, in the center of Mumbai’s wealthy suburbs.

Open sewers and garbage heaps are common sights in Dharavi, as are the slew of tiny, concrete-walled and vividly-painted factories. These provide Mumbaikers with gold jewelry, leather goods, hand-embroidered saris, and the popular snacks known as farsaan. The crude factories often double as storage spaces and sleeping quarters for their workers.

“Dharavi is a true and living microcosm of India, where the mandates of daily survival dictate the strength and spirit of individual enterprise,” said Mumbai writer Murzban Shroff, who accompanied India-West on a recent visit to Dharavi.

“Dharavi is the alchemy of diligence that transforms waste into wealth,” said Shroff, who spent several years there while researching his collection of stories, “Breathless in Bombay,” shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Prize.

Dharavi is also home to one of the largest electronic waste recycling hubs in India, and similar facilities exist throughout the country, employing an estimated 80,000 workers in what is known as the “informal sector” — the poor — who dismantle and reprocess roughly half a million tons of e-waste each year. The work is done largely by hand and without protective gear to guard against the known toxins in old electronics.

Older women do much of the segregating and cleaning of waste, while children are often on the periphery, transporting materials by bicycle or foot, and sorting through mounds of tiny components gleaned from circuit boards.

E-waste includes computers, monitors, printers, printer and ink cartridges, cell phones and old television sets. In the developing world, old electronics are mined for precious metals, such as gold, silver and copper. Recovery rates for such materials are about 40 percent, low because of the crude refining facilities.

The United Nations Environmental Program released a report in February warning developing countries that — unless they acted quickly — they would be deluged with huge mountains of e-waste. India currently produces 300,000 tons of e-waste annually and that figure is expected to jump 500 percent by the year 2020, according to the UNEP report.

The United States — which generates three million tons of e-waste annually, the largest amount in the world — sends an estimated 50,000 tons of e-waste to India, about one-tenth of all the waste the country either receives or produces itself.

India is technically barred from accepting U.S. waste by the 1989 Basel Convention Treaty, which bans the export of hazardous waste for any reason from rich to poorer countries.

But the United States is the only developed country that has not ratified the treaty and thus permits the export of most e-waste without restriction. In 2008, the General Accounting Office released a report chiding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its lax oversight of e-waste exports, and recommended that the United States sign the Basel treaty.

This April, the Indian government will consider new legislation regulating electronic waste, including dismantling and recycling processes.

Interviews by India-West with more than 30 recyclers in the slum areas of Dharavi and Sakinaka in Mumbai, and Seelampur and Mandoli near Delhi, netted a trove of stories about poor working conditions, entire families sustained on wages of $2 a day, and tremendously long working hours of repetitive work.

None of the recyclers knew they were working with known toxins, or of the health risks associated with their trade. Questions about worksite-related illnesses were largely shrugged off.

E wate factoryYoung Boys Dismantle Cathode Ray Tubes
Photo credit: Som SharmaThousands of toxins exist in old equipment, including lead, lead oxide and cadmium in circuit boards, cathode ray tubes and batteries; mercury in switches and flat screen monitors; and brominated flame retardants.

Lead exposure causes brain damage in children and has already been banned from many consumer products. Mercury is toxic in very low doses, causing brain and kidney damage. Cadmium accumulates in the human body and poisons the kidneys, while brominated flame retardants may seriously affect hormonal functions critical in normal development.

Printed circuit boards, which are burned over open flames after their precious metals are extracted, release brominated flame retardants, mercury and isocyanates from the varnish, which are completely invisible and without smell, so that workers have no way of knowing they have been exposed.

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences recently conducted a study of e-waste recyclers’ exposure to lead. The study was inconclusive.

“Health impacts are very difficult to assess in the urban poor,” Ravi Agarwal, director of New Delhi-based Toxics Link, told India-West. “Methodologically, it becomes impossible to isolate exposure.”

The urban poor do have higher rates of tuberculosis and other respiratory diseases, as well as cancer, which often goes undetected, he said, adding, “Just putting a face mask on would cut down on respiratory diseases about 45 percent,” said Agarwal.

Accidents happen frequently in metal processing factories, said D.R. Dhaman, who with his brother M.K. Sharma, owns Master Industries in Shadra, near Delhi, and buys recycled copper and plastic to manufacture PVC cables for the Delhi municipality.

“We see accidents at least once a month, but they are often concealed,” he noted, adding that factory managers were often lax about the safety and health of their workers. Asked if buyers of such materials could intervene, Dhaman shrugged. “If the factory owners don’t care, why should we?” he said.

Much of the U.S. e-waste that ends up in India is collected through municipal e-waste recycling drives, and then sold to brokers, who buy the waste from cash-strapped towns and cities, and then sell it overseas. Many shipments also arrive as donations for schools. These are sold to dealers for recycling or reselling. 

Shipments from the United States can change ownership while on the sea, with the port of origin on the paperwork subsequently becoming Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong or Singapore. Such a practice makes it difficult to track U.S. shipments, explained Agarwal.

In a tiny workshop down a narrow alley in Seelampur, Delhi, Gulfam processes cathode ray tubes, from old monitors and television sets, collected throughout Delhi by kabadiwallahs. The tubes are then refurbished into new televisions that are sold to the poor for about $50, a fraction of the price for a new TV set.

“We can stick any label you like on it: Sony, Toshiba, whatever you want,” said an ebullient Gulfam, noting that a “new” set can be made in as little as five days. About 70 percent of the CRTs he receives can be refurbished, said Gulfam, adding that he throws the rest away in an undisclosed spot.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulates the export of CRTs, which contain an average of 1.5 lbs of lead. But the CRT rule is often circumvented, noted the GAO in its 2008 report, In an investigation in which its agents posed as foreign buyers, the GAO found 43 U.S. companies willing to export CRTs in violation of the EPA’s rules.

Lead has already been banned from most consumer products. CRTs are banned from U.S. landfills, due to concerns about possible lead leaching into the soil.

In several factories in Mandoli, workers melt down copper and aluminum into bars and rods that will be used elsewhere.

This reporter’s throat immediately seized up upon entering one such facility, where a gaping hole in the roof serves as the only ventilation. The young Suraj, tending one of three fires, laughed when asked whether he was affected by the smoky, sooty environment.

“You are new, so it is bothering you, but we are not bothered, we are healthy,” he told India-West, noting that he had worked there for more than five years. Only one worker, Rohit, who looked no more than 17, used a scarf over his face as he stoked the fires.

The lone woman at that factory, Lalitha, is the mother of three, who said she worked at the refinery during each of her pregnancies.

Wandering around Mandoli’s factories required wading through large pools of standing water – later discovered to be the remains of acid baths used to leach precious metals from printed circuit boards. Large piles of gray ash, the remnants of burned circuit boards, were also seen lying on the ground outside several brick-walled factories.

Journalist Kalpana Sharma, author of the seminal book “Rediscovering Dharavi,” said she is awed by the entrepreneurial spirit here.

“They actually manage very well without any help from the state. You have to admire that spirit and also wonder about what more they would be able to do if they did have access to resources,” she said.

India-West staff reporter Sunita Sohrabji received a fellowship from the Washington, D.C.-based International Center for Journalists to report this story. A longer version of this article appears in the print edition of India-West.

Friday, March 19, 2010


from the independent

March 17, 2010
Internet trade driving rare salamander to extinction
By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor and Kevin Rawlinson
Plight of Kaiser's spotted newt highlights new threat to wildlife

A rare salamander is being driven to the brink of extinction in the wild because of internet trading, conservationists say.

The little-known Kaiser's spotted newt, found only in Iran, is thought to be the first creature to face the threat of extinction from e-commerce - a growing threat to endangered wildlife which authorities are struggling to address. Because Neurergus kaiseri is very attractively coloured, and also rare, amphibian enthusiasts are willing to pay as much as £200 for one. Dealers can often only find people willing to pay such a price by advertising on the internet.

An investigation into the sale of Kaiser's spotted newts by the wildlife trade monitoring agency Traffic found 10 websites claiming to stock the species, including a Ukrainian company which said it had sold more than 200 wild-caught specimens in a year.

The demand has been such that the wild population, found only in four streams of Iran's Zagros Mountains, was reduced by 80 per cent between 2001 and 2005 alone, and is now classed as critically endangered. It is estimated that fewer than 1,000 mature individuals remain.

Conservationists want all international trade in wild-caught Kaiser's spotted newts made illegal. A proposal to ban such trade has been put forward by Iran at the conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), in Doha in the Arabian gulf.

"The internet itself isn't the threat, but it's another way to market the product," said Ernie Cooper, of Traffic Canada. "The Kaiser's spotted newt, for example, is expensive and most people are not willing to pay $300 for a salamander. But through the power of the internet, tapping into global market, you can find buyers."

Kaiser's spotted newts were being advertised for sale on numerous websites yesterday, but the animals did not appear to be wild-caught. Babies were being offered for £40 each for delivery anywhere in Europe, with North American sellers asking for around twice that price including free next-day shipping. Some sellers claimed their salamanders had been captive-bred in 2008.

Illegal wildlife trade is gaining ground on the internet, according to Cites. Officials say that while wildlife law enforcement has made gains in policing physical markets for wildlife, the online world - with its "virtual" markets that have yet to be properly regulated - presents a set of new challenges.

Over the next few days, the 175 Cites member states meeting in Doha, including Britain, will consider whether to take a more proactive approach to regulating the online trade in endangered species. This is likely to include the creation of an international database, scientific research to gauge the correlation between wildlife loss and online trade, and closer collaboration with Interpol, the international law enforcement agency.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


OOH Super-Graphics Go Green: Movie Billboards Morph Into Reusable Bags
Erik Sass, Mar 17, 2010 09:49 AM

billboard 2 swag bags

Los Angeles is a giant laboratory and proving ground for new out-of-home advertising strategies -- which also makes it a hotbed of opposition to the burgeoning, diversifying medium. Witness the seemingly endless battle over digital billboards, which now involves the LA City Council, the Planning Commission, and the state and Federal courts. But at least one of the more contentious issues -- the environmental cost associated with vinyl "super-graphics" applied to the sides of buildings -- appears to have been solved.

The environment-friendly fix comes courtesy of Midnight Oil and LA Graphico, sibling marketing companies based in Pasadena, which specialize in online advertising and super graphics (focused on the movie industry) in partnership with another local company, Billboard2Swag, which takes LA Graphico's discarded vinyl building wraps and turns them into sturdy, stylish reusable shopping bags.

Unlike the reusable shopping bags sold by green-thinking supermarket chains, each of the Billboard2Swag bags is unique.

Given the size of the super-graphics, which measure thousands of square feet in area, there's no guarantee a particular bag will have anything recognizable on it, but it does offer some eye-catching abstractions.

Plus, there is a certain cachet (at least in L.A.) to owning a bag made from, say, a giant super-graphic for "Avatar." The green selling point helps: Billboards2Swag is able to reuse over 95% of each LA Graphico super-graphic, leaving virtually no waste for the landfill.

Although it forged the partnership with Billboard2Swag on its own initiative, LA Graphico hopes the green solution will help attract more environmentally conscious advertisers that may have shied away from the giant out-of-home ads.

According to Brandon Gabriel, a principal at Midnight Oil and LA Graphico, the two companies' growth strategy includes cross-selling more of their online ad clients to outdoor and vice versa. The bags can only help persuade digital adherents to venture out-of-home, while allowing existing super-graphic advertisers to polish their green credentials.

One interesting PR advantage: as conversation pieces, the bags continue generating buzz and publicity for a movie long after the super-graphic comes down.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


James Cameron: I’m the greenest director of all time! 24
avatar for Janet Wilson

by Janet Wilson GRIST

1 Mar 2010 11:50 AM

AvatarPhoto: Official Avatar Movie photostream via FlickrHe's made the highest grossing film on the planet, but Hollywood mega-director James Cameron is now promoting "Avatar" as the most successful environmental film of all time, too. Really.

"There is no studio anywhere in the world who would say an environmental message would make $3 billion ... I can't think of any other really commercially successful ones, can you?" he said during an interview at a Santa Monica fundraiser last Monday for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council.

"'WALL-E', maybe?" replied his wife, actress Suzy Amis Cameron.

It was Amis Cameron who asked an astonished, grateful NRDC if they would like her husband to appear at a quickly arranged fundraiser starring Cameron and his sci-fi blockbuster, which features a mother tree deity. The film is nominated in nine Oscar categories, after all, including best director and best picture. Hooking up with NRDC was, if you think about, perfectly natural.

Talking to a graduate film student at the event, Cameron warmed to his message that he's the greatest enviro director, comparing his work to "An Inconvenient Truth," which he called boring with bar charts. "If it wasn't Al Gore, nobody would have listened," he said, but then ruefully admitted he made four semi-successful documentaries about the ocean before plunging into "Avatar."

"I wanted to do a film that had a deeply embedded environmental message ... but do it in the form of a science fiction action adventure," Cameron told local public radio host Elvis Mitchell. "My feeling was if we have to go four light years away to another planet to appreciate what we have here on earth, that's okay."

He wanted, he said, to pack such an emotional wallop that by the time the film's giant, sheltering tree is felled, everyone in the theater would feel moral outrage. Further, after the triumph of nature's creatures over evil military contractors, he wanted the audience to feel hopeful enough to do something.

"Avatar" may be the most explicitly environmental film of Cameron's oeuvre, but he insists he's been making them all his life, from a high school work entitled "The Extinction Syndrome" to his obsession with nuclear war fears à la the "Terminator" series.

Cameron's environmental zeal started early. Though he spent his childhood in a Canadian farm town, he earned his scuba certification in a landlocked swimming pool. When he was 17, his family moved to inland southern California, but he homed in on the beach, surfing off Huntington and Laguna, then switching to scuba diving.

In recent years he has done group submersible dives, exploring and noting the slow degradation of coral reefs. Oceanic influences infuse "Avatar's" phosphorescent lighting and dreamlike landscapes. The giant, whirly creatures that shrivel up when Sully taps them were based on sea worms. He had a team of the planet's best designers, Cameron said, but every time they invented something spectacular, they found Mother Nature had done something better.

Cameron seems pretty well positioned to take on right-wing climate deniers, having made "The Terminator" for Fox when Rush Limbaugh was a California cow town radio host. At the NRDC event, he refused to debate about Fox News commentators, however, noting he works for a different division, though he confirmed studio executives asked him to "tone down the tree-hugger crap." He refused, but art imitated studio life when Jake Sully, the contract soldier who is the main character, says he hopes "all the tree-hugger crap" he's being exposed to "won't be on the final."

Tree hugging is not, Cameron acknowledged, in the moviemaking industry's genetic makeup, it being a carbon-intensive process. But, he insists, his family's use of hybrid vehicles, fluorescent bulbs, and other sustainable products is his way of making a difference. Okay sure, that should even things out.

It might have been an NRDC event, but the mobs were vintage Hollywood, even if there were high schoolers and Amazon River activists mixed in with the "Aliens" fans and wannabe filmmakers. One man's daughter had attended a birthday party for one of Cameron's' kids and said he'd have his child slip a copy of his documentary on soil to Cameron's child to pass on to him. Have your girl call my girl. We'll do lunch.

I joined the mob, testing Cameron's green chops: Wind power (he's a huge fan), clean coal (it doesn't exist), the failure of Obama and other world leaders at Copenhagen (agreed), cap-and-trade, he was acquainted with them all, even a bit directa-torial in his opinions. But he gave as good as he got. When I noted that acid rain was still spreading despite cap-and-trade, he retorted that it's not spreading as fast as it would have. He asked what a better solution might be. Tough new regulations?

Fine, "I'm willing to engage or indulge real ideas," he said. "But if we don't do something, we're all going to die! What's it going to take, a big fucking disaster with all kinds of people dying? We need to change our priorities fast."

Cameron said he has been overwhelmed with requests from environmental groups, and will probably do more events, since his wife told him, "Maybe more than an opportunity, maybe there's a duty to try to use this film for whatever good can be brought to bear."

He added, "The environmental message maybe got lost earlier in all the talk about 3-D ... It's time to start having that conversation more."


First Look Studios And Shorewood Packaging Team Up For A Greener Hollywood

Filed under: business, film-tv, green and famous, movies, television — Michael Parrish DuDell @ 5:24 pm--ecorazzi

December 18th 2007

First Look Studios, a leading independent studio in theatrical, home video and television operations, has teamed up with Shorewood Packaging, and gone green for us all. The new friendship marks the first collaboration between any studio and packaging company with the goal of lightening their environmental footprint.

and this:

- Environmental Leader - -

Lionsgate Announces Green DVD Packaging

Posted By Environmental Leader On March 18, 2008 @ 3:08 pm In Business-to-Consumer, Green Marketing, Manufacturing, Paper & Packaging, Products & Planning, Recycling, Retail & Restaurants | 1 Comment

weeds_three.jpgIndependent film studio Lionsgate plans to package many of the Company’s DVD releases in “environmentally friendly” materials. The first “green” release will be Weeds: Season Three, which will hit stores in June.

The trays on all environmentally-friendly DVDs from Lionsgate will be made of 100 percent recycled materials (it’ll take about 500,000 used water bottles to make them) and each tray can be recycled. The paper used for the DVD packaging will be made from 100 percent recycled fibers and is recyclable and compostable.

In addition, manufacturing the recycled tray uses less than 10 percent of the total energy required to make a new Amaray case.

Lionsgate’s record label will be adopting environmentally friendly packaging for the CD of the Weeds soundtrack too.

and Ecorazzi March 15 2010:

No surprise here: Joan Jett is taking her new “Greatest Hits” album in a green direction.

The animal activist and staunch vegetarian has announced that the packaging will be eco-friendly — made from 100 percent recycled paper and biodegradable trays.

“I’ve always appreciated nature,” she says in her website biography, “trees, grass, birds, sun, and even insects. I obsessively recycle. I almost never turn on lights; I pretty much live in the dark. I don’t use a lot of water. I am a vegetarian, so I avoid contributing to the major environmental damage that the meat industry creates. I hope that soon we can make sure that everything we do is earth-friendly.”

The duo’s first project is to start a tree planting program that will offset emissions that are generated by the manufacturing of one million DVD packages. But wait…there’s more. First Look Studios has officially switched to 100 percent recycled Prokote(TM) paperboard Flip-Paks for its screeners and reduced their overall paper usage. They’ve also switched all of their package printing from UV to water-based coated. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, they’ve topped it all off with a big, eco-friendly, green bow, by including recycling instructions on all of their products.

You guys, THIS IS HUGE!! To me, this is so obviously not just a P.R move to look like a “noble” company, but a genuine act of corporate responsibility that could aid in redefining ethical capitalism as we know it. Please, please visit the First Look website (HERE) and help support their projects in anyway you can.

Adrian Grenier…beat that!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Gotham Gazette -

Pioneering E-Waste Bill Remains Stuck in Legal Limbo
by Hashim Rahman
08 Feb 2010
photo flckr

In 2008, New York City enacted a pioneering electronics waste law, becoming the first city in the nation to do so. But the law never went into effect and now the city government and manufacturers are locked in a contentious legal battle over whether producers should take a lion's share of responsibility for collecting discarded electronics.

Before the law could go into effect last July, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Information Technology Industry Council and ITAC Systems, Inc. filed a lawsuit to block it. The New York City Law Department and the National Resources Defense Counci are defending the law.

Oral arguments have been postponed three times since the fall as the two sides try to negotiate a settlement. The case is being heard by Judge William H. Pauley of Federal Court for the Southern District of New York.

"The stakes are high on this," said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator for the Electronics Take Back Coalition. "If the plaintiffs prevail on this, it can call into question legislation on a whole range of products where states are holding manufacturers responsible." For the city -- where only 10 percent of discarded electronics are recycled -- a plaintiffs' victory would add to the growing list of environmental reforms that failed, stalled, or were drastically revised. Manufacturers fear that, if they lose, they will have to comply with a law that they say imposes unreasonable burdens and enormous costs.
Picking Up the Pieces

The proposed law requires manufacturers to plan for and pay the full cost of collecting discarded electronics. Manufacturers must submit an e-waste plan detailing "convenient" methods by which consumers can return items. Manufacturers can be penalized $1,000 for each day the plan is past due, while city residents can be fined $100 for each improperly disposed item. The law covers computers, televisions, computer printers, and i-Pods, but not cell phones or household appliances.

The most controversial provision of the city's plan requires that manufacturers collect items over 15 pounds directly from consumers' residences. Items under 15 pounds can be mailed or dropped off at a collection point. The direct collection requirement -- which no state has -- was not part of the City Council legislation but a regulation from the Department of Sanitation, which governs how the law is administered.

Other highly contested elements of the law include an orphan waste rule, which requires manufacturers to take back certain electronics made by producers that no longer exist, and a performance standard, which sets minimums on how much must be collected.

The plaintiffs point out that Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the performance standards component of the e-waste plan, which City Council passed in a separate bill in 2008. But the mayor did sign the bill containing all other aspect of the e-waste recycling plan, and the council later overrode the mayor's veto of the performance standard.
A Mountain of E-Waste

This law was prompted by an exponential growth in electronic waste and a growing awareness of its dangers.

Junked electronics are the fastest growing kind of waste in the U.S. Americans, who own over 2 billion pieces of high-tech electronics, discard over 3 million tons of them each year according to a 2007 report by the Environmental Protection Agency. Public Advocate Bill De Blasio, a longstanding proponent of the bill during his tenure in City Council, has written that the city spends over $6.4 million a year to export the nearly 30,000 tons of e-waste that travel through its waste stream.

Electronics contain lead, cadmium, mercury, all of which are dangerous when released into the environment, according to the city's brief. Such toxins can leach into groundwater from improperly contained landfills or be released into the air when crushed by compactors or burned in incinerators.

Plaintiffs say the law is unconstitutional, alleging, among other claims, that it would impede interstate commerce and violate the equal protection clause and due process.

But their essential problem with the law is cost. They claim that the city has "devised a program this is in order of magnitude more costly than any other E-waste program in the world."

"The city’s program costs six to eight times more than any other state program, and these excessive costs will be passed back to consumers in the form of higher prices," said Parker Brugge, vice president of environmental affairs for the Consumer Electronics Association. Brugge said that the association estimates the proposed law would cost manufacturers about $200 million annually.
Paying for Pick-up

Direct collection alone, according to the Consumer Electronics Association and other plaintiffs, "will cost manufacturers approximately $121, and potentially more, per pick-up from a city residence." James Slaughter, attorney for the plaintiffs, said direct collection is particularly expensive because whenever a customer calls to dispose an electronic item, "we have to come get it."

But the city and the Natural Resources Defense Council dispute the plaintiffs' cost estimates. Kate Sinding, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the plaintiffs' estimates are based on the most inconvenient ways of complying with the law. She said that in reality, "competition and the drive for efficiency would lead manufacturers to find the least costly option for compliance."

In support of this position, Jay Shepherd, a policy advisor from Washington State Department of Ecology, filed written testimony indicating that companies in his state have pooled resources and worked together to come up with cost effective ways of complying the state's e-waste laws.

The city and NRDC also indicate that direct collection is not the expensive, come and get it kind of rule the plaintiffs make it to be. And on the law's face, this is true. The regulation states that for items over 15 pounds, "convenient collection from a resident shall mean direct collection from a resident's home." Slaughter said this implies an on-demand pickup, but Sinding said the regulation is flexible, allowing companies to come out to collect every few weeks or so. The plaintiffs "interpret the direct collection requirement as being an on demand pickup requirement, but there is absolutely nothing in the regulations, or the law, that would compel anything like that," Sinding said.

The city also indicates that direct collection is "narrowly tailored" to New York City, where many residents do not own cars. Without cars, people would have to lug heavy items on mass transit.

Jennifer Carela, a Chelsea resident who hauls her out-of-use electronics on the subway to city-run collection programs, likes the proposed law for its convenience to city residents. "I've used the electronic drop off sites but it's always a production to plan your schedule around them, and I don't think most people care enough to lug their keyboards, CPUs, and TVs downtown to have them disposed of properly," she said.
Sharing the Burden?

The manufacturers also complain that the law shifts all responsibility to them, and that is what makes it particularly unfair. In California, consumers pay a fee at the time of sale. "There needs to be a shared responsibility among various stakeholders," Brugge said.

However, the city argues in its brief that one rationale for increasing manufacturer responsibility is that "requiring manufacturers to internalize the costs of recycling covered electronic equipment gives those manufacturers an incentive to reduce or remove toxic materials from products at the time that the products are first manufactured." Eighteen of the nineteen states with e-waste laws have enacted legislation that shifts burdens toward the producer, and such laws have come to be known as producer responsibility laws.

Elizabeth Grossman, whose 2006 book High Tech Trash chronicled how severely production and disposal of electronics affect the environment, said, "If you require a company to take physical and fiscal responsibility of their obsolete products, they've got a whole lot more incentive to make them easier to recycle and last longer."

Nili Belkin, a Park Slope resident, would like to see that happen. She recently got rid of her computer printer merely because the small roller that feeds through paper would have cost her nearly as much as a new printer. She hopes the law will encourage longer lasting, less disposable products.
City, State or Federal?

For now, only 19 states regulate e-waste. The number is likely to grow, according to experts.

The industry has said this matter should not be left to cities and states.

"We believe that electronics recycling is a national issue that requires a federal solution" said Brugge. "It is not feasible for manufacturers to comply with a unique recycling scheme for every municipality in the country."

Kyle noted, though, that what she considers a sound, comprehensive, proposal at the federal level never got off the ground, leaving states to take things in their own hands.

"This is really a fight about state's rights and city's rights," said Kyle.

great toxic links alert

Change makers - Join the fight against electronic waste
By Toxics Link, 10/03/2010
Source: Toxics Link

E-waste is a critical issue facing India today. With rapid technological advancement and growing obsolescence rate, the country is saddled with huge generation of this new stream of waste. The issue is not just of massive quantity but also of toxic nature of this waste. E-waste contains lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, PVC, Brominated Flame Retardants and other toxics and potentially hazardous substances, which can cause damage to our health and environment.

E-waste is end-of-life equipments like computers, mobiles, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, electric wires, MP3 and DVD players etc, which run on electricity. Every discarded electrical and electronic gadget adds to the pollution and exposes millions of people to hazardous toxins. The issues is further complicated in India due to rudimentary processes used in the informal recycling sector where majority of it is currently recycled.

There have been attempts to change the situation, which has resulted in greater awareness in the issue and also setting up of authorized recyclers with environmentally sound recycling technologies. But there is still lot to be done.

E-waste is generated mainly from two sources- domestic and businesses. In recent times, though there have been some attempts to collect wastes from corporate or businesses; there has been hardly any initiative to provide this facility to households or individuals. This means the common man does not have a way of disposing off this hazardous waste in a safe manner.

Children, who are the real change makers of any society, can also take a lead in this and help find solutions. The students of St. Paul’s School, New Delhi in collaboration with Toxics Link, have taken up one such initiative and have set up a collection system for this hazardous E waste in their school.

Under an initiative by Toxics Link, St Paul’s school’s team of eleven students along with their teacher Mrs Manju Chawla, have initiated this task of spreading the word about e waste hazards and the need for its safe management. A special bin has now been placed in the school campus wherein the students drop E waste generated within the school premises and also bring E-waste from their respective homes. This waste is then sent to an E-waste recycler, authorised by Central Pollution Control Board for safe recycling.

They have plans to include the school neighborhood in the collection programme for e waste, thus involving peoples participation in finding solution to this complex issue of managing e waste.


Illegal e-waste commerce focus of INTERPOL environmental crimes meeting

21 July 2009

© iStockPhoto / Ravi van Leeuwen

Millions of tonnes of personal computers are illegally disposed of each year

See also

Newsletter: Issue 01

LONDON, England - Developing an enforcement strategy to address the illegal trade and export of electronic waste (e-waste) is the focus of a two-day meeting of INTERPOL's Environmental Crime Programme which opened in London today.
As part of the Organization’s ongoing efforts in combating environmental crime, the INTERPOL e-waste project was established in 2007 to analyze and respond to illegal activities involving the exportation of scrapped computers, televisions, mobile telephones and other electronic waste to developing nations.

Electronic equipment contains a host of potentially hazardous materials including lead, arsenic mercury, cadmium and other toxic metals. The ‘smash and burn’ method often used in the illegal handling of e-waste in developing countries puts individual workers at risk of serious health problems such as damage to the brain, the central nervous system and internal organs.

These illegal operations also release significant levels of dangerous substances into the atmosphere and surrounding water resources which can reach such concentrated levels that the wider community is also affected.

“The illegal trade and export of e-waste not only affects the environment, but can also be linked to other crimes such as corruption, fraud and bribery,” said David Higgins, INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme manager.

“There is also the risk that personal and sensitive information can be retrieved from scrapped computers and mobile phones, leaving the former owners open to identity theft.”

During the meeting in London, hosted by the Environment Agency of England and Wales, experts from Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States will discuss and share best practice in dealing with illegal e-waste exports, including the identification of modus operandi and the need for a multi-disciplinary approach involving all areas of law enforcement.

INTERPOL’s Environmental Crime Programme supports operational law enforcement activities in each of the 187 member countries through providing a secure international law enforcement communication network, assisting in building environmental law enforcement capacity globally and encouraging the exchange of environmental law enforcement intelligence internationally. offers this

WEEE Forum exceeds the mark of 2 Mt of electronic waste collection

Brussels – With more than 2 Mt of WEEE collected and properly treated and reported, 2009 has been recorded as a successful year for the 39 producer responsibility organisations of the WEEE Forum. This figure is up by 30 percent on 2008 when approximately 1.5 Mt was collected and properly treated.

Logo WEEE Forum
WEEE Forum
“We are extremely satisfied having exceeded the 2 Mt mark”, comments Andreas R√∂thlisberger, President. “The first and by far most important explanation is that all of our member organisations invested millions of euro’s in campaigns aimed at raising awareness among consumers and in building collection networks. It takes huge, sustained efforts to educate consumers on what to do with their end-of-life appliances”.

“In addition, says Pascal Leroy, Secretary General, “as the producer responsibility organisations share best practices amongst each other, good results are obtained while, at the same time, the development costs of new consumer awareness campaigns steadily decrease”.

Nevertheless, seen in the light of last year’s economic downturn, this performance is quite remarkable. The WEEE systems, all of them run on behalf of a community of 17,000 producers Europe-wide, showed stability and the consumers did not face increasing costs.

The WEEE Forum was founded in April 2002. Being one of the world’s only multinational e-waste centres of competence, the WEEE Forum’s mission is to contribute to an expert and constructive debate based on facts and figure


New York City Electronics Recycling Action

computer with recycling symbolThe Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) have filed a lawsuit challenging New York City Local Laws 13 and 21 of 2008 and the implementing regulation, created by the City Department of Sanitation (DSNY).

Despite industry's best efforts to negotiate with New York City officials on a reasonable and effective recycling program, the City is proceeding with plans to impose the most costly, burdensome and environmentally harmful electronics recycling requirements in the world. The regulation, which compels manufacturers to establish a free, door-to-door electronics collection program to City residents, effectively mandates the establishment of a separate solid waste collection program, complete with fleets of trucks. This will force hundreds of additional trucks onto City streets, needlessly increasing traffic congestion, air and noise pollution, and carbon emissions at a time when the City is trying to minimize both. Estimates suggest the requirements will cost manufacturers, including many small businesses, more than $200 million annually, resulting in cost increases to consumers and job losses.

As responsible stewards of the environment, the high tech industry fully supports reasonable initiatives to promote the safe and efficient recycling of electronic devices. However, the law, and its interpretation by DSNY, will significantly harm the environment, consumers and the economy by placing the entire burden of collection and recycling on electronics manufacturers whose products are distributed, sold or transported into New York City. The high tech industry will continue to advocate for reasonable and effective recycling solutions that actually help the environment without forcing price increases onto consumers and imposing crushing burdens on employers.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

oh dear

Published on (

Greenpeace Loses Round Two in Tiff with Facebook
By Matthew Wheeland
Created 2010-03-09 05:10

Glass houses, stones, etc. That's the sort of lesson coming out from the latest round in the Greenpeace vs. Facebook skirmish currently afoot on the internet.

To recap, briefly: In January, Facebook told the world it was opening a green data center, one that set a target of a highly energy efficient 1.15 power usage effectiveness ratio.

In mid-February, advocacy groups including as well as Greenpeace called Facebook out for not using renewable energy to power its planned data center. As I wrote back then:

The complaints arise from the fact that Facebook has contracted with PacifiCorp subsidiary Pacific Power to supply the energy for the facility.... While Pacific Power gets some hydropower from [the hydroelectric generator Bonneville Power Administration], its primary power-generation fuel is coal, according to Jason Carr, the manager of the Prineville office of economic development for Central Oregon....

Some of the largest tech companies have sited their data centers in the same region where Facebook plans to build, and one of the primary drivers for those choices is that hydroelectric power comes in large quantities and rock-bottom prices from dams on the Columbia River.

Although the complaint from Greenpeace marked the first time I'd heard of a company or a data center getting dinged for the electric grid on which it was sited, the campaign took off: Greenpeace's Facebook group, "We want facebook to use 100% renewable energy" currently has over 129,000 members.

Late last month, reported David Holley at the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin reported that Greenpeace's San Francisco and New York offices also draw energy from nonrenewable sources, and that Greenpeace's West Virginia data center is "majority powered" by wind energy.

Then (finally), last week, Rich Miller at DataCenterKnowledge went a bit deeper, reporting that Greenpeace's data needs are served a Dutch data center that uses renewable energy credits to offset its carbon emissions, and that the group also uses a colocation facility that is powered under northern Virginia's electric grid -- a grid that uses about 46 percent coal and 41 percent nuclear to generate electricity.

While Greenpeace told Miller that it had signed its contract with its colocation provider five years ago, before renewables had the market foothold they currently do (which is still not much, of course), the fact remains that both Facebook and now Greenpeace are being criticized for what should reasonably be considered the last phase of the greening of data centers; it's far more important to design these energy-hogging facilities to run efficiently than it is to ensure the most pristine energy source possible.

And that's Facebook's stance as well: "Facebook's commitment is, regardless of generation source, to use electricity as wisely and as efficiently as possible," a company spokesman told Miller.

Greenpeace isn't airing the dirty laundry of its own data centers' PUEs; Global Switch doesn't list efficiency details for its Amsterdam facility, but it seems to me that using less energy -- almost regardless of where it comes from, is a better policy than simply offsetting the energy you use.

good tv story

Old TVs spark environmental dispute
Indonesia rejects Brockton shipment
by Beth Daley (Globe Staff), The Boston Globe

2 March 2010 – Nine truck-size shipping containers filled with old televisions from a Brockton recycling company are at the center of an international dispute drawing attention to a major problem in the regulation of hazardous electronic waste: When is a product intended to be reused, and when is it trash?

The containers, shipped to Indonesia by CRT Recycling Inc., were seized by port officials there after an environmental organization staked out the company’s Massachusetts operations and alerted the Indonesian government about a possibly illegal shipment of e-waste.

The cathode-ray tubes in televisions and computer monitors contain more than four pounds of lead, as well as mercury and other toxins, that, if not disposed of properly, can seep into groundwater or soil. An international treaty restricts shipments of these tubes for disposal in developing countries.

But CRT Recycling says the TV tubes were being sent to the country to be reused - not thrown away. “We send good [material] overseas," said Peter Kopcych, general manager of CRT, which takes thousands of tons of old computers and televisions every year from close to 200 municipalities, including some in Massachusetts.

Indonesia sent the containers back to Boston, and yesterday, the US Environmental Protection Agency released the shipment to the company, suggesting it found no clear violations of US law. The Indonesian government did not return e-mails and phone calls.

It can be difficult for the public to know where its old computers and televisions wind up. The United States has not ratified the Basel Convention treaty, a 172-nation pact to prevent the transfer of hazardous waste from developed countries to less-developed ones.

The Basel Convention considers cathode ray, or CRT tubes, hazardous waste, and it prohibits them from being sent to developing countries to be thrown away or recycled, according to the Basel Action Network, the group that alerted Indonesia to the shipment. To gain entry to those nations, many companies say the tubes are going to be reused or resold, the group said. Instead, it says, the majority of the tubes are burned, dumped, or, disassembled to extract reusable material by workers with little protection against toxins.

A 2008 Government Accountability Office report said US companies send broken CRTs overseas. Investigators posed as foreign buyers of broken CRTs in Hong Kong, India, Pakistan, and other countries - and 43 US companies told the investigators they would export those items. The report was critical of EPA’s oversight and enforcement.

“There is enough documented evidence indicating that monitors and other types of electronics shipped under the guise of resale or reuse winds up being disassembled in dangerous conditions,’’ said Allen Hershkowitz, senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council. “There is so much documentation consumers should assume that unless the material is going abroad [to be repaired under warranty] it will be disassembled."

Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based nonprofit, staked out CRT Recycling and took photographs of a container it says was being filled with computer monitors. Using container numbers and online shipping company databases, the group tracked the container and its ship to the port of Semarang, in Indonesia, in November. The group alerted the Indonesian government, which sent it back to the United States on Dec. 13, according to a letter from the Indonesian company slated to receive the material.

“We can explain that the green organization ... known as ‘BASEL’ took photos of the cargo while being loaded in U.S.A. and then asked the Indonesian Environmental authorities to ship these containers back to the U.S.A. because BASEL CONVENTION description of CRT is ‘hazardous material,’" according to the letter from Intech Anugrah Indonesia.

Kopcych said Basel Action got its information wrong. The company sent televisions - not computer monitors - in the containers. And he said the Indonesian government never opened them to see what was inside. A Basel Action Network official said the Indonesian government did open the containers.

Kopcych said company representatives asked people whether their televisions worked when they picked them up, and the machines were separated based on the answer. In cases where there was no one to ask, the company workers separated the TVs themselves. He said it ships only 3 percent of all the televisions they collect, and of those, about 97 percent can be reused.

But Jim Puckett of Basel Action Network said those assertions defy belief. Research his group has done shows that 75 percent of CRT tubes sent overseas do not work. Testing should be done on each one, he said.

The United States needs to ban the export of e-waste, he said.

“Even though our own government knows that the importation of toxic waste from the US is a violation of the laws of most countries of the world, our own EPA shamefully allows the global dumping to continue."


Monday, March 8, 2010


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Sunday, March 7, 2010


Ministry proposes ban on used computers

Information and Communications PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, says his ministry is proposing to Treasury to include in the next year’s Budget a ban on used computers.
By Okuttah Mark
Posted Monday, March 8 2010 Business Daily

The government is proposing a ban on second-hand computers to curb dumping and encourage local assembling.

A study on electronic waste conducted in Kenya in 2008 indicated that the country generated 3,000 tonnes of e-waste from computers, monitors and printers in 2007.

Information and Communications PS, Dr Bitange Ndemo, says his ministry is proposing to Treasury to include in the next year’s Budget a ban on used computers.

The government zero-rated duty on imported computers in 2006, a development that led to rise in imports.

Dr Ndemo said last week over the years many government incentives have made new computers affordable, adding there was no need for imports with short life span that led to accumulation of e-waste.

While new computers can last up to eight years, the second-hand machines can only go for three years.

“The organisations shipping in these used computers are being paid to get them out of those countries but are disguising themselves as donors assisting Kenya’s schools,” said the PS. “It is cheaper for companies in the developed world to pay these organisations to bring the computers here than destroy them.”

Removed VAT

A study conducted by Eco Ethics International in 2007 on the impact of imported second-hand computers in the country show that those dealing in these computers started bringing them in 2003 but the number doubled after the removal of VAT.

“When asked on the development of the business over time, we were shocked at their response,” reads part of the research report.

“The business only picked up in 2003 and doubled in 2006 when the government removed VAT.”

During this year’s Budget read last year, the government announced a one-million laptop campaign where it was to guarantee interests on loans borrowed from banks for buying a laptop or personal computers (PCs).

However, the private sector, mainly the telecommunications companies embarked on a similar initiative that made the government to retreat, leaving it to the private sector.

The operators have partnered with various financiers and are offering laptops from Sh25,000 and Sh75,000.

On the other hand, refurbished computers retail from as low as Sh15,000.

Several non- governmental organisations, such as Computer-Aid International and Computer for Schools Kenya (CFSK) are among those who have been receiving computers from donors and distributing them to the learning institutions.

However, CFSK is among the organisations that have embarked on projects to reduce e-waste in the country.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


America’s Biggest Trade Export to China? Trash
March 03, 2010 02:58 PM ET

By Jodie Allen, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

It has come to the attention of a growing number of expert observers that the good old USA may have seen its best days on the world stage. But these critics may be overlooking a potential way for America to continue to play at least a major supporting part--if not an especially decorous one--in the world economic drama.

The nation now cast in the role of Eve Harrington to America's Margo Channing is, of course, China. China's economic strength continues to make headlines. Most recently: its overtake of Germany as the world's largest goods exporter last year; its fast rebound to a 10.7 percent growth rate in the 2009 fourth quarter; its projected ascent this year to the No. 2 position among world economies, displacing Japan.

It's gotten so that even the normally chest-thumping American public is feeling a bit insecure. A Pew Research Center/Council on Foreign Relations poll conducted last fall found 4 in 10 (41 percent) among the public saying the United States plays a less important and powerful role as a world leader today than it did 10 years ago--the highest proportion ever recorded in a Pew Research survey across the years. More to the point, by a 44 percent-27 percent margin, Americans now name China as the world's leading economic power rather than the United States. As recently as February 2008, 41 percent still saw the United States as the top economic power compared with 30 percent who named China.

Add to this the mounting worry about the exporting of American jobs--not just among displaced workers but now even among mainstream economists--and you can see why Mike Mokrzycki of the ABC News Polling Unit sums up his organization's new survey thusly: " 'The 'American Century' was sooo last century, as many Americans see it." The ABC survey shows the public evenly split, 41 percent-40 percent, on whether it will be a Chinese or American century in terms of economic power, and giving a slight 43 percent-38 percent edge to China when it comes to a dominant role in world affairs.

But perhaps there is some room for optimism on the trade front. True, the shrinking of the U.S. trade deficit over much of last year mostly reflected the restricted diet of foreign imports forced upon U.S. consumers by the recession, and its recent resurgence has been viewed as a positive sign of a rebound. But another little-noticed factor was apparently also at work.

As the Wall Street Journal noted in reporting the resurgence of the trade deficit last November, while the U.S. shortfall with most other major trading partners increased, the deficit with China actually declined. The Journal didn't analyze the components of the shrinkage, but an intriguing table in a recent, little-noticed report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission points to one interesting trend.

The report itself focuses on data in the chart showing a 454 percent surge in Chinese exports of computer equipment to the United States over the 2000-2008 period and an even larger 800 percent rise in communications equipment exports as clear evidence that "China's industrial policy clearly aims to promote the manufacturing of higher-technology products, replacing lower value-added and labor-intensive products."

No doubt. But the report draws no attention to the components of a relatively recent surge in U.S. exports to China, perhaps the result of growing American concern about its mammoth trade imbalance with the Middle Kingdom. Between 2004 and 2008, these exports more than doubled from $34.7 billion to $71.5 billion, far short of the $337.8 billion the U.S. imported from China in 2008, but still a step in the right direction.

And while electronic components as well as oilseeds and grain continue to rank among the top three categories of exported goods, the fastest growing and now No. 1 export category is--"Scrap and Trash."

According to data provided by the U.S. International Trade Commission, Chinese imports of U.S. cast-offs (scrap metal, waste paper, and the like) surged by an eye-popping 916 percent over the 2000-2008 period, with most of that expansion occurring after 2004.

Perhaps not many observers will judge this a suitably glamorous role for America to assume on the global stage. But one might take comfort in the thought that if there is one thing that Americans still excel at producing, it's trash.

Monday, March 1, 2010




Seattle, Washington (1 March 2010). The Basel Action Network (BAN), an environmental watchdog organization, reported today that it had successfully prevented nine sea-going containers of hazardous electronic waste from a Massachusetts business calling themselves a recycler from being exported and delivered to Indonesia in contravention of the international treaty on hazardous waste known as the Basel Convention and Indonesian law. The action was made possible due to a tip by BAN to the Ministry of Environment in Indonesia. Last week in Bali, Indonesia, representatives from BAN and Asian environmental groups met with and personally thanked the Minister of Environment and the Indonesian authorities responsible for this police action, which comes just as the United Nations Environment Program released a report highlighting the massive amounts of e-waste flooding developing countries in contravention of the Basel Convention.

“Indonesia is just one of many countries now being flooded by a tsunami of toxic electronic waste from the United States,” said Jim Puckett, Executive Director of the Basel Action Network. “Even though our own government knows that the importation of toxic waste from the US is a violation of the laws of most countries of the world, our own EPA shamefully allows the global dumping to continue.”

In this case, the perpetrator of the shipment, CRT Recycling Inc. in Brockton, Massachusetts, utilized a waste broker, Advanced Global Technologies Inc., that is listed on an official EPA website as being an EPA registered e-waste exporter. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office slammed the EPA for doing far too little to control exports of electronic waste from the United States, but still little has changed as there remains no law sufficient to control the flood of toxic e-waste. It is estimated by Hong Kong authorities that 50-100 containers of e-waste enter the port of Hong Kong alone each day. Almost all of this comes from the United States according to BAN.

BAN, together with the Electronic TakeBack Coalition, has been campaigning for a new law prohibiting hazardous e-waste exports from the United States, a ban already in place in 32 other developed countries. In 2008, BAN assisted CBS’s 60 Minutes to track containers from a similar Colorado based recycler to China. Since 2001, BAN has travelled the world revealing the cyber-age nightmare of e-waste exports and dumping in developing countries (see photo gallery at:

In this case, BAN volunteers staked out CRT Recycling Incorporated in Brockton, Massachusetts, a company that takes thousands of monitors every year from local schools and governments who unwittingly believe their old computers and monitors will legally and properly recycled. BAN photographed a container in the CRT Recycling, Inc. yard being loaded with cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors. Using container numbers and online shipping company databases, they were able to track the container and its ship to the port of Semarang, Indonesia. In November of 2009, BAN contacted the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and warned them of the ship’s imminent arrival and the hazardous wastes it carried.

Indonesian authorities then seized the container and found it to be part of a consignment of 9 such containers coming from CRT Recycling, Inc. These were opened and confirmed to be stacked full of untested, used computer monitors -- each containing several pounds of lead and other hazardous substances -- thus making them an internationally defined hazardous waste and therefore illegal to import into Indonesia. All 9 containers were then returned to the US. The containers arrived in Boston port in early February and are currently thought to be detained at the Boston Freight Terminal with a deadline to clear customs by February 28th. CRT Recycling, Inc. has stated that they will turn the CRTs over to RMG Enterprises, of Londonderry, New Hampshire, for further processing. The EPA is expected to inspect the containers upon arrival.

However it is unlikely that CRT Recycling, Inc. or its broker, Advanced Global Technologies Inc., will be prosecuted for illegal hazardous waste exportation as the United States has never ratified the Basel Convention, and the only current law on the subject, known as “the CRT Rule,” is riddled with loopholes allowing uncontrolled exports. In fact, on EPA’s CRT rule website (see, Advanced Global Technologies Inc. is listed as an EPA officially sanctioned waste exporter.

According to BAN, about 80 percent of the e-waste consumers deliver to recyclers is not recycled by these companies at all but is simply shipped to countries in Asia and Africa to some of the world’s most impoverished communities where the waste is smashed, burned, melted or chemically treated in extremely dangerous backyard operations. BAN warns businesses and consumers to hand over their old electronic equipment only to designated e-Stewards® Recyclers that have been carefully screened and audited to ensure they do not export, use prison labor, or dump toxics in municipal landfills and incinerators.

“Consumers can take action to prevent techno-trash dumping,” said Puckett. “We must urge Congress to pass a prohibition on waste exportation at once, and we must vow to never deliver old computers and TVs to any company that is not a designated e-Stewards Recycler.”