Cashing in on E-Waste

Written by Ian Bellamy

What do you do when your mobile phone dies? It’s a shame to simply throw it away, especially since it’s loaded with gold, silver, copper and other valuable raw materials.

Not to mention larger electronic devices, such as computers and tablets.

A German company, ALBA, has agreed to work with their national post office, who will collect any old electronic devices that will fit in an A4-sized envelop. The company will then harvest materials and reuse up to 80 percent of them.

Germany gets over 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, and has one the most developed recycling programs in the world.

There is, according to six categories of recyclables in place:

  • the yellow bin for packaging materials,
  • the brown bin for compostables,
  • the blue bin for paper,
  • the white glass bin,
  • the colored glass bin, and
  • the grey bin for the rest of the trash.

Recycling programs such as these are not unheard of. Cell for Cash (who is not currently accepting orders) was known to take old mobile phones and refurbish them for sale in developing countries. The Cash for Clunkers program in the U.S. would also scrap the old vehicles for the metal.

E-Waste is becoming a bigger problem day in and day out, as it accounts for 70 percent of overall toxic garbage.

According to Recyclebank, a company that encourages people to recycle, “The total annual global volume of e-waste is expected to reach about 40 million metric tons. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated that we generated 1.5 billion pounds of all kinds of e-waste in 2006. This includes an estimated 44 million computers and televisions.”

Of course, this is only going to increase in time as more people get cell phones and computers and the rate which technology is becoming updated.

It’s harmful to see retired cell phones as “waste,” because in fact it is a resource. A functional phone can be donated, and a broken one can be refurbished or recycled. With the amount of e-waste that is already present and the amount that we will produce in the future, it is inevitable that we will have to keep in mind our limited resources, especially with regard to rare-earth minerals that are found in everyday devices.

We can expect that as the problem of e-waste becomes more dire, we’ll see more programs and companies, and it appears that Germany is leading the way.

Worst Company EVER: Biotech Giant Monsanto is Under Attack, Obama and the FDA are Under the Gun


CREDO Action - Dump Michael Taylor

Via CREDO Action website

By Allison Hibbs

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation long reviled by organic farmers, environmentalists and conscientious foodies worldwide, has drawn more than the usual amount of rancor in recent months. While assailants are hoping the media blitzkrieg will prove as damaging to the company as they claim that its bioengineering and genetic modification practices are to the planet, that hope may prove optimistic in light of its cozy relationship with the United States federal government. Efforts to diminish that relationship have led to the recent circulation of more than one petition calling for the dismissal of FDA Food Safety Czar, Michael Taylor, a former top Monsanto executive.

One reason for the recent outrage is a perceived “crusade” by the FDA against small raw milk dairy farmers, many of whom are Amish, even as they overlook repeated violations by larger, industrial producers. CREDO, a publication of Working Assets, began a campaign in late January to educate and motivate consumers to sign a pledge beseeching President Obama to expel Taylor from the administration.

"While factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations, raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs."

CREDO Action

CREDO believes that the FDA’s efforts would be better spent enforcing food safety regulations at the largest industrial producers, where it claims that “antibiotic resistance has run amuck,” rather than focusing so much of the administration’s efforts on sting operations to arrest small dairy farmers.

"Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman -- Jack DeCoster -- who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall. 3Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions, Michael Taylor thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets of his FDA enforcement raids with guns drawn."

CREDO Action


The petition had garnered 151,160 signatures as of SuperBowl Sunday, 75 percent of its 200,000 goal. Petition: Tell Obama to Cease FDA Ties to Monsanto

Another petition circulating on Twitter and Facebook had reached a total of 220,000 signatures by game time, far surpassing its original goal of 75,000. Written and circulated by Frederick Ravid, this petition includes a longer letter to the president, expressing opposition to the his administration’s appointment of Taylor three years ago.

“Taylor is the same person who as a high-ranking official at the FDA in the 1990s promoted allowing genetically modified organisms into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks,” reads the letter. “This is a travesty.” Pointing out that Taylor was in charge of policy regarding the widely-opposed bovine growth hormone and that he fought against the requirement for disclosures on milk from cows that had been treated with the hormone, Ravid goes on to decry Monsanto as a company directly threatening the health and well-being of US citizens.

Reinforcing these concerns are WikiLeaks documents that surfaced last year implicating the Bush administration in questionable tactics used against countries in Europe to impel them to purchase Monsanto GMO products that they were resisting. Other documents imply that the US government considered putting pressure on the Pope to come out in favor of GMO foods. If any such actions were taken, they have proven largely unsuccessful and Monsanto has been repeatedly thwarted in France, Germany and the UK.


Additionally, lawsuits have been brought against the biotech giant by India and Canada for biopiracy and biocontamination, respectively; and a group of 270,000 American organic farmers are also suing the company for biocontamination. Ironically, the move is intended to protect these farmers against possible patent-infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto over GMO seeds that have migrated to – and compromised – their lands.

For all of these reasons (and more), Monsanto has been voted Worst Company of 2011 by Natural Society, and the public seems increasingly to agree. As the acrimony grows, it is beginning to look like the corporation’s PR department has some serious damage control to do if it hopes to retain any influence over government activity.  It is, after all, an election year and Obama may not have the luxury of ignoring so many voters crying “Why, O, why?”

Stephen Colbert discusses America’s Financial Victory, Confederate History Month, Crazy Commercials and Gay Animals

This host is tough as nails

Stephen Colbert opens his report with a newsweek cover, he then probes into the slavery side of Confederate Month, leads a conversation about fast-food in afghanistan and cupcakes in Germany, before finally wondering if nature could ever be gay.

To kick it all off, the host holds up the NewsWeek cover that displays the words “America’s Back!” over a patriotic background. He supports the celebration, happily announcing the news that the Dow Jones closed above 11,00 for the first time since September 2008. And even though he isn’t quite sure what that means, his trusty financial advisor, Gorlock, assures him in a new book, “To Serve the Investor,” that it’s best for Stephen to just “relax and fatten up.”

In other news, Governor Robert Mcdonald of Virginia decides to call April, Confederate History Month. Stephen creates a new bumper sticker, “VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS of embarrasing moments in American History,” which brings him It him to the Word: Slavery. In the snippet, Stephen discusses how some southerners consider slavery as an insignificant issue.  They want to merely focus on states rights, which just so happen to include slave ownership in certain regionns. As Alexander Stephens so elegantly phrased it: “[The Confederacy’s] corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery — subordination to the superior race –is his natural and normal condition.” By the end of The Word, Stephen tells everyone to strip the hateful word of its meaning, as he begins referring to everyone in the audience as his “slave-uhs” (as in slaver, or someone who owns slaves.)

The Nussbeugerl reflects the 'German Smile', which is a frown to Americans.

The episode moves into a discourse on the fast food ban in afghanistan, and a burger king commercial depicting a crazy King, which lead Stephen to believe that food advertisers are in fact lunatics; he goes on to cite the campaigns for Coco Puffs, Almond Joys/ Mounds, and the KFC Double-Down Sandwich as further proof of commercial craziness. Then he transitions into a story about Germany turning down Mcdonald’s line of American cupcakes, after their citizens continue to prefer their own native bavarian pastries, (like the “Nussbeugerl.” ) Desperate to show Germany the good stuff, Stephen invites German Ambassador of the UN, Hanz Bienholdt, to come in and try a cupcake. After explaining the bizarre item to the Ambassador, the German representative decides that he doesn’t like “cuppit ckaes”, though he does openly admit that he’s done many unforgivable things for a Klondike Bar.

The episode closes with a discussion about ‘They Gay,” an article in The New York Times by the straight-human, Jon Mooallem. It discusses whether or not animals can be homosexual. And, as it turns out, it’s difficult to tell; however, studies have reported that one third of a studied population of Albatross have actually paired off in lesbian couples. Stephen doesn’t get much evidence to swing either ways, so he swings alittle in both directions.