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<nettime> Solid (and E-) waste blues in Brazil
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 20 Jul 2009 15:25:27 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Solid (and E-) waste blues in Brazil


>From the Bricolabs list/ Jaromil/ Felipe Fonseca:



re all,

some interesting news appeared today on a popular geek's forum:

 (from the got-enough-of-our-own-thanks dept.)

Peace Corps Online writes:

 "BBC reports  that Brazilian authorities are demanding  the return of
 more than  1,400 tons  of hazardous British  waste found in  about 90
 shipping  containers  on  three  Brazilian docks.  The  waste,  which
 includes syringes, condoms, and bags of blood, has been identified as
 being  of  UK origin  from  the  names  of British  supermarkets  and
 newspapers among the  rubbish. Reports in the UK  media say the waste
 was sent  from Felixstowe in eastern  England to the  port of Santos,
 near Sao  Paulo, and  two other  ports in the  southern state  of Rio
 Grande do  Sul. The British government has  launched an investigation
 into how and why the waste was sent to Brazil and the British Embassy
 in Brazil has said in a statement that it was investigating and would
 'not hesitate to act' if it  was found that a UK company had violated
 the Basel  Convention on the  movement of hazardous  waste. Meanwhile
 Brazil  is demanding  the  immediate  return of  the  rubbish to  the
 UK. 'We will ask for  the repatriation of this garbage,' says Roberto
 Messias, head  of the Brazilian environment  agency. 'Clearly, Brazil
 is not a big rubbish dump of the world.'"

Two UK companies  named by Brazil as suspected  exporters of the waste
are owned by a Brazilian, based in the UK, who says that anything that
was in the containers other  than the expected recyclable plastic is a
problem to take up with his suppliers.

http://news.slashdot.org/story/09/07/18/208226/Brazil-Demands-Repatriation-of-UK-Hazardous-Waste

(>>  http://tinyurl.com/nbjwbp)

i find this  news extremely interesting. not because  this is actually
happening, nor  because we can now  start a war on  those companies or
some blaming sessions back and forth between North and South.

i find it  interesting because for the first  time something like that
is acknowledged widely and even discussed on a geek's forum.

now this is not just UK  dumping stuff in Brasil, simple as it sounds:
that  is just  the tip  of an  iceberg, which  might be  melting soon.
imagine the  quantity of  "hazardous waste" shipped  by Europe  to the
even-closer Africa, we all know that at least on paper.

i can imagine it  very well, i can actually smell it,  as i smelled it
for all  my childhood in the outskirts  of the city where  i was born,
playing with a  wooden stick and that strange  little lake of bubbling
green thing smelling so acid, so funny to find it on that little beach
far away where i used to go to be alone.

the south of Italy in fact  lives an analogue situation with the trash
(remember  Napoli last  year?) where  the most  pathetic aspect  it is
actually  that in  the  south are  the  most beautiful  places of  our
rotting nation.

so is  there a pattern somewhere  here?  i can't believe  this is just
about  some criminals  at the  guide of  our  industrialized sado/maso
societies.  then this all means we are very (very!)  stupid.

are we starting  to rationalize all this (ALL, not  just UK and Brazil
please)? are we able to track all the variables at stake?

so here  i conclude with an  exhortation, lets tell it  to our friends
and let  it propagate  widely:

 if you really want to tag something with an RFID, stop worrying about
 poor people shoplifting and start from the trash of the rich!

ciao


- --

jaromil, dyne.org developer, http://jaromil.dyne.org


Felipe Fonseca's reply:

jaromil escreveu:
> so is  there a pattern somewhere  here?  i can't believe  this is just
> about  some criminals  at the  guide of  our  industrialized sado/maso
> societies.  then this all means we are very (very!)  stupid.

from our perspective, the possibility of the UK company being also owned
by a Brasilian sounds awfully familiar. I would say, it was almost expected.

> are we starting  to rationalize all this (ALL, not  just UK and Brazil
> please)? are we able to track all the variables at stake?

no way. I know all kinds of garbage, and in particular e-waste, are
regularly delivered to different parts of the world. I don't have enough
information about that, but it seems likely that the situation in Ghana,
Nigeria, India and China is at least similar, or even worse than the
brasilian. So, allow me to explain that a little bit...

Brasil has no regulation regarding 'solid waste'. There is a proposed
legislation - encompassing different kinds of materials - that started
being developed in 1991! Please everyone, try to rememeber what the
world was like in 1991. I was 13, Fernando Collor - the playboy - was
the soon to be impeached president, Brasil had been football champion
only three times. The Rio'92 ecology conference was still being planned.
The inflation in Brasil amounted to two digits a month. What else? I was
beginning to learn to play the guitar, was in love with a girl three
years older - and had kissed her once. Well, 1991. The idea for the sold
waste legislation was first developed that year, and started to be
processed by brasilian congress.

Now cut to 2009. The 1991 project is a pretty piece of code, receiving
cumpliments in the whole world. But it wasn't approved yet. Me and some
other people are following it with a focus on e-waste, and documenting
it all in a weblog - http://lixoeletronico.org. After all these years
developing metareciclagem, we learned the single biggest problem every
grassroots computer reuse/recycling lab has is, after a while,
accumulating a great deal of material that can not be used in any way.
And there's no alternative for it: either we earn a couple bucks selling
it to evil companies that will shread the materials and send it to
China, Ghana, Nigeria, India or the like; or we find one of the two or
three trustworthy recycling companies in Brasil - and PAY for the
material to be processed.

Then, a couple of weeks ago we heard the legislation was moving. The
weird news was: everything related to electronic waste was removed from
the project by a kind of anonymous working group. Everything. If
approved, that new law would skip all the possible accountability for
electronics in Brasil. In a country that has an estimated 60 million PCs
and 160 million mobile phones being used, that is a major lack of
responsibility.

We published an online manifesto, http://lixoeletronico.org/manifesto,
and started asked people to sign a petition asking the congressmen to
put electronics back into the legislation. There are not much more than
600 people signing it now, but some key people are there. It is
available here, if any of you care to sign it:

http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?ewaste1

After less than a week, we have got a reasonable amount of response from
both the onlinosphere, some parts of the big media and, best of all, a
couple congressmen who were part of that working group, wanted to
include electronics, but were not able to show any kind of public
support for their position. They thanked us for making all the noise and
making the discussion public. The way it was conducted before our
movement, the discussion would circle between the industry lobbies and
the congressmen. Now we brought it to public, and hopefully will be able
to make it a big issue in the media (something I have always avoided up
to this moment, but now it is needed) in orded to influence that process.

Now, getting back to the thread... both things - the fact that a 18-year
old piece of legislation disappears during the night, and a
brasilian-owned UK company sending illegal garbage to a brasilian
company because they make a lot of money and couldn't care less for the
environmental, economic and social consequences of all that, seem very
similar. Different parts of a giant puzzle that is essentially against
life, against the environment, againts everything we stand for. I do
agree with you, Jaromil. It is great to see that discussed in a geek
forum. It is great to see that kind of information - about things that
have always happened, and sadly still happen a lot - finally reaching
the public domain, and hopefully influencing the way things are done.
But we must be aware that, as we change the game, the strategies of
those in power will also change. The old ways of fighting need to be
reinvented. It isn't easy to keep a wide perspective on it all, as the
whole thing is ever more diffuse. But we're still on it.

> so here  i conclude with an  exhortation, lets tell it  to our friends
> and let  it propagate  widely:
>
>  if you really want to tag something with an RFID, stop worrying about
>  poor people shoplifting and start from the trash of the rich!

Here from inside the land of contrast I would say: not only the rich.
The 'new middle class' is becoming full of crap, literally. I have seen
both rich and poor people trying to produce less waste, but I have seen
both rich and poor people dumping their garbage from inside moving
vehicles. But anyway, agreed on tagging trash, not products (an
unacknowledged amount of shoplifters I know are middle-class youngsters
looking for cheap fun, and poorer people are usually more afraid of
doing such things because they would suffer more if caught once).

Isso aí

efe





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