Who We Are
Fair Trade Recycling is the reserved tradename of the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Association (WR3A). Our members are either interested in, or actively engaged in, the export of used electronics, sometimes referred to (unkindly) as “e-waste”.
Our members assist each other with better quality control and formal, safe, environmentally sound recycling practices. We have been called the “Anti-Defamation League” for overseas recyclers who have been accused of “primitive” environmental practices.
While the export business is not perfect, it is not going to be improved through a boycott or ban on trade. Instead, proper recycling overseas can actually be FINANCED by fairly traded used electronics. For example, we offer members in emerging markets a discount on working items they wish to purchase when they take back and properly recycle their own nations waste and scrap.
We are based in Middlebury, Vermont, with paying members in several other states and countries. Our most active projects have been in Mexico, Malaysia, Peru, Indonesia and Egypt. Our Board Members (paid memberships) and Advisory Board Members (honorary members) are located in North Carolina, Illinois, Washington, Louisiana, California, Texas, Arizona, Mexico, Holland, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Peru, and France.
We are actively seeking to place interns from North America, Europe, and Asia into “coordinator” positions with our members in Africa, South America, and Asia. Coordinators may visit or correspond with buyers (importers) of used electronics, helping to translate, deliver messages, and ensure that the trade between rich and poor goes off without misrepresentation, exploitation, or environmental damage.
If you are a student at a college or university with “surplus property”, please consider joining us.
International Law (the Basel Convention) currently allows trade between OECD (“rich countries”) and non-OECD (“developing countries”) if the effects are reuse, repair, or clean recycling. While the trade is not perfect, tinkering, repair, refurbishing and reuse have created affordable cell phone and internet systems across the globe.
Critics of the trade cite “externalizing environmental costs”, and would ban poor nations from taking used goods from rich nations. The poor, they say, should get donations and trade from other poor.
The effect of bans on trade (e.g. California’s SB20 system for destroying display devices like computer monitors) has created shortages, a decrease in quality of exports, more expensive IT for emerging markets, and has created useless piles of glass out of CRTs which would have worked for 20 years.
The proposals to ban trade in used electronics between rich and poor have had a perverse effect. They distract us from real problems like endangered species poaching, habitat loss, toxic mining, blood metals, child soldiers, sex trade, and other more pressing problems than “e-waste”. The poor are better off purchasing working and repairable electronics from rich people than they are being outlawed from the trade. And hand-disassembly of used electronics is actually superior environmentally to shredding.