ITC reports on US eScrap industry

Contrary to popular opinion, the U.S. electronics industry is not exporting broken or obsolete electronics products on a large scale, according to a study prepared by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The study, available here found that about 17% percent of used electronic products are being exported from the U.S., a direct rebuttal of the widely-quoted myth that 80 percent of electronics collected for recycling in the U.S. are dumped overseas.

Andrea Boren of the U.S. ITC discussed the government’s findings at ISRI’s Convention  and Expo April 11.

“The reports that you’ve heard over the past few years citing 80 percent of electronics are exported and dumped into developing countries has no relationship to the facts that are in this report,” said John Powers of ISRI.

The report values the entire U.S. electronics recycling market at $20.65 billion.

Of the 17 percent percent of electronics exported by American companies, “Whole equipment for reuse accounted for the largest share of U.S. exports by value in 2011, and tested and working products represented the majority of U.S. exports of whole (Used Electronic Products),” according to the report.

Boren responded to criticism that the government agency may have been misled or the material under reported, saying the agency is confident the report prepared at the federal government’s request is the best information available.

“We were aware of the challenges (in preparing the study) from the onset, and the ITC has expertise in conducting these surveys of industry and we did not see any anomalies in our results,” Boren said.

ISRI’s Electronics Division, which met before the start of the convention, welcomed rhe findings of the report.

“We are quite pleased with the results of this finding,” said Eric Harris, Associate Counsel and Director of Government and International Affairs. “It the most comprehensive, exhaustive study to date on the export of used electronic products leaving the U.S. marketplace.”

For ISRI’s summary of the report, click here.

Advertisements

PCRR has new certifications

PCRR, an electronics recycler and refurbisher in Chicago, has become the latest company to commit to a higher standard of business and ethical operations by achieving RIOS™ certification. The company already maintains R2 certification, achieved in 2012; with the latest announcement, PCRR is an R2/RIOS™ certified electronics recycler.

PCRR, founded in 2000, primarily focuses on the reuse of used electronic equipment and is a Microsoft® Authorized Refurbisher. The company is the largest computer refurbisher in Illinois and one of the largest in the country.

“We implemented the RIOS™ management system because it is the right thing to do for our employees, customers and the environment,” said Willie Cade, founder and CEO of PCRR. “Adding RIOS™ to our R2 certification reaffirms PCRR’s commitment to providing quality refurbished electronic equipment in an environmentally responsible way.”

RIOS™ serves as an alternative to the combination of ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001 standards. To earn RIOS™ certification, PCRR underwent a third-party audit to verify compliance with quality, environmental, health and safety standards.

“As an industry leader in computer refurbishing, PCRR’s RIOS™ certification showcases the importance of certification for all electronics recyclers, including those focused on refurbishment,” said Robin Wiener, president of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI), who administers the RIOS™ program. “R2/RIOS™ certification proves that a facility is committed to the highest standard of responsible business practices.”

R2/RIOS™ certified recycling facilities have experienced significant positive results, including new business opportunities, improved employee retention and increased bottom line. For additional information on R2/RIOS™ certification, visit www.isri.org/certifyme.

For more information on the company, visit www.pcrr.com, or call (800) 939-6000.

 

Electronics recycling programs at ISRI 2013

ISRI CONVENTION PROGRAM – Electronics Recycling Program Finalized

The annual ISRI Convention and Exposition will be held on April 9-13 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, FL. As in the past, there will be an extensive program track on electronics recycling – the Electronics Recycling SUMMIT® – 2013

Following is an outline of the program.

 

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10

Educational Program – 2 Short Courses

  • 8:00AM-12:00PM: Electronics Recycling Fundamentals – what you need to know

Course Description: This short course is designed for those getting involved or interested in electronics recycling. It is intended to provide an overview of the industry and key factors that affect it – including materials processing, reuse, and responsible recycling practices.

  • 1:00-5:00PM: R2/RIOS-Certified Electronics Recycler™Promoting value & pushing the evolution of the industry

Course Description: This short course is designed for those interested in certification but who have not yet gone through the process. It will include tutorials on the R2 and RIOS standards – including pending changes – as well as how to prepare for certification. And it will provide perspectives on the importance and value of certification from OEMs, Recyclers and Refurbishers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

  • 10:00-11:15AM: Kick-off to the Electronics Recycling SUMMIT® Program

Session Description: This initial session of the electronics recycling track for the ISRI Convention program includes an overview of the ISRI Electronics Division and the program track – as well as 2 special presentations on the “Electronics Recycling Market Outlook” – including “Precious Metals” and the first release of the results of the USITC study on “Exports”.

  • 11:30AM-12:15PM: Spotlight on Electronics

Session Description: This year’s Spotlight on Electronics is a special panel of venture capitalists on “Venture Capital Perspectives on the Electronics Recycling Industry” – with a focus on industry M&A and consolidation activities, considerations and outlook. It addresses the question – why invest in the electronics recycling industry?

  • 2:00-3:15PM: How Electronics Recyclers Handle Problem Materials Responsibly

Session Description: There are a number of materials in electronics equipment that present problems and challenges for a recycler – because of the potential hazards, regulations and costs involved. This session will address the proper handling and processing alternatives available for CRT glass, batteries and mercury-containing devices.

 

 

FRIDAY, APRIL 12

AM

  • 10:00-11:15AM: U.S. – Global Summit on Electronics Recycling

Developed with the U.S. Department of Commerce

Session Description: The U.S.-Global Summit on Electronics Recycling is comprised of a panel of international experts who will provide perspectives, updates and outlooks on electronics recycling regulations and programs in their countries – including Brazil, India and China.

  • 11:30AM-12:45PM: Maximizing Value in Electronics Recycling

Session Description: This session will introduce new processing technologies, methodologies and best practices in electronics recycling – including hydrometallurgical precious metals refining, optimizing reuse and plastics recycling.

 

For more information on the convention, including registration and reservations, go to the convention website at: http://www.isriconvention.org/

Spring cleaning your personal electronics stockpile

With warmer weather approaching, the annual spring cleaning of American homes is about to begin. This year, instead of dusting around that old TV set that’s doubling as an end stand or moving your cache of unwanted cell phones to another drawer, seek out an R2-certified electronics recycler to handle your personal recyclables stockpile.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the American public has something along the order of 70.5 million computers in storage; they’re joined by 40.2 million computer displays and 105 million TV sets. That adds up to tons upon tons of electronic devices – and we haven’t even considered the 57.8 million mobile devices the EPA estimated in its baseline report.

What would happen if every household in America decided to recycle just one of the old TV sets or mobile phones that are laying about their house? The report probably understates the true volume of electronics stored in the home, says Robin Ingenthorn, owner of Good Point Recycling in Vermont, especially when looking at the households with 20 or more devices lying about.

“These ‘E-waste hoarders’ had a huge impact on companies like mine when recycling became free and widows started delivering massive truckloads out of garages.”
While recycling old electronic devices should be as automatic as separating cans and plastics, electronics, for many areas of the country, can pose a challenge in recycling properly. Some states, with sparser populations, may not have the strong collection networks that larger states boast. In addition, recycling is more ingrained in some states and cities than in others – in Columbus, Ohio, the landfill authority reported 16,444 tons of household waste was recycled, compared to 1.1 million tons landfilled;
Now, compare that to an area like San Francisco, where 72 percent of the waste stream is recycled. Residents in recycle-friendly states are more likely to go the extra step and recycle electronics if they are already accustomed to sorting cans and bottles.

This spring, clear out the clutter, dust the blinds, and recycle that old TV and cellphone cache with an R2/RIOS certified recycler. For more information on electronics recycling and R2 certification, click here.

A bottle bill, but no PC bill

“Bottle Bills” have been on the books in Massachusetts and Iowa for years. Everyone in America who’s purchased a drink in a plastic or glass container in recent decades is familiar with the 5- or 10- cent deposit paid on each bottle or can. This small fee is returned to the consumer to help insure the container is brought back to collection centers for recycling.

These programs cut down on litter and reduce solid waste in the states’ landfills. The Container Recycling Institute, which advocates for the expansion of container recycling in the U.S., reports a beverage container recovery rate of 85 percent in 2012.

“There are over 40 container deposit systems in place around the world and, for the past four decades, these systems have consistently achieved superior recycling rates,” Susan Collins, President of the Container Recycling Institute, said in a published report on the organization’s web site.

“CRI has found that these other systems have excellent litter reduction and outstanding environmental performance compared to all other forms of recycling. CRI has also seen that the high quality and high quantities of recyclables support manufacturing jobs in the aluminum, plastic, and glass industries. Those same recycling benefits could be realized here in the U.S. and help create higher employment rates, which CRI would like to see grow in Vermont.”
Consumers aren’t really getting free money when they take carefully hoarded cans and bottles to collection points – it’s money they’ve already spent without thinking about it, added at the time of purchase.

What’s interesting about Iowa and Massachusetts is they are the only two states in the U.S. that have bottle bills – but no Extended Producer Responsibility laws for electronics.

Would a similar get-paid-to-recycle bait and switch work in states that have bottle bills, but no electronics recycling laws? In many states with electronics recycling laws, consumers pay a fee at the time of purchase of new electronics to subsidize recycling of obsolete equipment. In non-Extended Producer Responsibility states, consumers often have to pay a fee to recycle TVs and computers.

But what about a refundable deposit on electronics? Something that the consumers pay up front, and then get back when they bring recyclable materials to collection points?

This system may not work well for large items with extensive use lives – things like TV sets, computer monitors that last for years – but for smaller items like mobile phones, which many people keep for two years or less – or tablet PCs and laptops.

While a deposit-return system may not be practical for electronics, Californians pay an Advanced Recycling Fee at the time of purchase for many different types of electronic products. The state has one of the strongest electronics recycling infrastructures in the nation – and it might be due, in part, to residents wanting to get the recycling service they’re paying for at the time of purchase. Such fees serve a double purpose – they make consumers aware of the costs of recycling their old products, and they help to support and develop an industry where capricious commodity pricing and dwindling end markets for CRT glass make profitable electronics recycling challenging for recyclers.

Finding ways to capture the residential e-scrap recycling market

Most of the electronics purchased in the U.S. end up in private homes. However, once these devices are ready for recycling, the majority of electronics are recycled by American businesses, governments or institutions – not the private citizens who make up most of the new electronics market.

Lawmakers, electronics recyclers and electronics manufacturers are exploring ways to increase recycling of electronics. Extended producer responsibility laws place a requirement on manufactures to keep their products out of landfills, and such systems also create a funding model to help electronics recyclers maintain profitability. But it only goes so far – door-to-door collection of electronics for recycling isn’t financially feasible, and companies still have to compete against the perception (POST LINK) that it’s too hard or too inconvenient to recycle electronics.

Having EPR legislation in place helps increase the amount of electronics collected and recycled, Zachary Hussion, Marketing and Programs manager for Sunnking Electronics Recycling, said. Sunnking, in Brockport, N.Y., was the first R2 certified electronics recycler in New York State.

Since New York’s EPR laws kicked in April 2011, “We’ve seen tremendous growth over past two years, much of that from the residential sector,” he said.

The company has doubled its volume, from 7.2 million pounds in 2012 to 14.7 million pounds in 2012.

They did this in a couple of different ways, all of it aimed at making electronics recycling as easy as possible for households. They’ve created a network of 130 free drop-off locations in New York, Pennsylvania and are now branching into Ohio. They’ve created charitable programs, where electronics recycling drives are held, and proceeds support local charities. One-day collection events are also held in partnership with local governments and non-profits in an effort to raise awareness.

Some municipalities are beginning to offer curbside service for electronics recycling, like Waste Management’s ‘call-ahead’ program in the Seattle area: http://www.wmnorthwest.com/kirkland/guidelines/electronics.htm

With all of these efforts, the first piece of the puzzle to solve is convincing residents that recycling electronics isn’t as difficult as they believe.

Sunnking, other recyclers collect e-scrap for charity

Non-profit groups are partnering with private electronics recycling companies to raise funds for their camp programs, schools and other organizations.

“We started with an idea to bring on a charitable partner and Camp Good Days & Special Times was a great choice for us. They are an organization that improves the quality of life for children, adults and families whose lives have been touched by cancer and other life threatening challenges,” Zachary Hussion, Marketing and Programs manager for Sunnking Electronics Recycling in Brockport, N.Y., said. Sunnking is an R2-certified electronics recycler.

“For the month of April 2013, Sunnking will provide free electronics recycling supplies and pick-ups at participating schools, businesses, non-profits and other organizations in the Buffalo and Rochester area.

Organizations are encouraged to collect old and unwanted electronics from employees, friends and family. Sunnking will donate money to Camp Good Days for every pound of electronics collected, and provide a certificate to each participating location with the net weight of what was recycled,” Hussion Said.

“For every pound of electronics we collect through the program, Sunnking makes a financial contribution to Camp Good Days,” Hussion said.

So far, they’ve donated almost $20,000 and collected more than 500,000 pounds of electronic scrap through the three years of the program’s existence. The company provides collection containers to participating businesses for one week in April, usually coinciding with Earth Day; at the end of the week, a pickup is scheduled. The businesses are given a report of how much they collected, and how much money was raised for the charity through their efforts.

“We have been very fortunate to have such outstanding support from Sunnking. Their funds have helped us continue to provide fun and laughter for many children dealing with cancer, which we are beyond grateful for. It is always so inspiring to see businesses and individuals come together to support our kids. Not to mention, we are safely recycling old electronics for free. It really is a great opportunity for both the Buffalo and Rochester community!” Lisa Donato Booz,  Regional Director of Camp Good Days & Special Times, said.

This year, Sunnking hopes to double the number of participating collection sites to 200 locations and increase collections to 500,000 pounds in 2013 alone.

While the program provides a good opportunity to support charity, the collection program has an added benefit of fulfilling requirements under New York State’s extended producer responsibility law for electronics manufacturers.

“It’s a way for Sunnking to recycle covered electronic equipment from the residential community, which is then used towards the legal obligations of manufacturers under the NYS Electronic Equipment Recycling & Reuse Act,” Hussion said.

Environmental Reclamation Services LLC, based in Erie, Pa., operates The Funding Factory, a mail-back program collecting mobile phones, printer cartridges and small electronics for schools, churches and other non-profits. Also R2-certified, mail back programs through ERS include MaxBack, GreenSchoolProject, eCycle Group, Recycle Rewards, and Easy Parcel Ship. Mail-in programs might be best in areas where there is no convenient access to a certified electronics recycler.

For more information, visit http://www.fundingfactory.com/programs/recycling/

Follow @sunnking on twitter

What if future-proofing becomes common?

Some electronics have been upgradable for nearly all of their lives. For example, most people don’t toss their desktop PCs when they want to add a stick or two of RAM, and retail outlets, from electronics stores to big-box department stores, now carry components like external and internal hard drives and new video cards. Cameras can swap out different lenses and flashes. Video game console companies develop new types of controllers and accessories that use everything from body weight to posture to interact with their products.
Television sets, however, are another matter. When consumers wanted the newest features in a TV set for the family room, the old TV was relegated to storage, or to the curb.
TV technology is changing rapidly. In the course of a few years, TV manufacturers have introduced 3D technology for home viewing, smart TVs that connect to the internet without additional hardware and ever-improving LCD, LED and plasma technology.
This improvement, and the quest for the latest-and-greatest technology leads to increasing volumes of e-scrap. Some TVs are resold, but it’s common to see old sets in the household solid waste stream, or dumped at the roadside, even in states where such dumping is illegal.
In January, Samsung introduced an “Evolution Kit” which will plug into the back of select Samsung TVs and deliver the upgraded features of 2013 to 2012’s models.
While it doesn’t future proof all purchases, the add-on “includes an upgraded main processor, plus a faster graphics processor, which should speed up Web-based activities such as browsing, as well as multitasking when using apps with TV in a window on the screen,” ConsumerReports.org reports of the device.
This is an interesting concept. In the ever blurring world between electronic devices and their uses, where televisions stream internet content, mobile phones surf the internet and tablet PCs act as workstations and secondary TV screens, making a TV set as upgradable as  a computer could reduce volumes of e-scrap. What effect this will have on the industry, especially if it becomes a widely adopted technology, remains to be seen. Many state electronic recycling programs are, in effect, subsidized by TV recycling, and TVs tend to be one of the largest segments of the refurbish-reuse market in the U.S. e-scrap industry. While reducing the volume of e-scrap generated, it may have a negative impact on an industry that relies on new consumer spending to drive consumer disposal.

Ship laden with illegally exported materials turned back to U.K.

When properly handled, electronics recycling can be safely and responsibly exported to developing nations. Western e-scrap provides valuable economic opportunities for people in areas that might otherwise be in weakened economic conditions, and the fact that this can be done safely is being demonstrated the world over. Take, for example, R2 certified facilities owned by TES-AMM Recyclers in Singapore, India, Malaysia and China.  By achieving and maintaining Responsible Recycling certification, the company has proven that ethical, safe recycling of electronics can be, and is being, done outside the U.S. and Europe.
Because of intense media coverage, places like Nigeria, Ghana and Guiyu in China have become synonymous with illegal electronics recycling and, unfortunately, for much of the American public, synonymous with electronics recycling in general.
International treaties strictly regulate the movement of electronic scrap across national borders, particularly between developed and non-developed countries. However, just as some unscrupulous companies seek to unsafely dispose of electronics rather than properly recycling them in the U.S., the same happens in Africa.
Nigerian officials recently intercepted M. V. Marevia in Lagos, having been tipped off that two containers of improperly exported wastes and other materials were on board.
The Nigerian National Environmental Standard and Regulatory Agency impounded the vessel and sanctioned the parties involved in the shady dealings to the tune of $1 million U.S., Nigerian newspaper The Vanguard reported. Newspaper accounts list the contents of the containers as used appliances and electronics; they were sent back to their country of origin, the U.K.
Africa, for a variety of reasons, does not have any certified e-scrap recycling facilities, and reports of a formal recycling system across much of the continent are anecdotal at best. Recycling of electronics can and is being done safely around the world, and it’s time to focus on educating and formalizing the recycling sector in areas of the world that have long been victimized by unscrupulous practices.

ISRI Convention schedule firming up

The Institute of Scrap Recycling industry’s 2013 Convention and Expo, to be held April 10-13 in Orlando, Fla., is just two short months away.  Registration is now  open for the event, which includes a number of educational and networking opportunities for recyclers.
Each year, the electronics recycling programs become stronger and offer richer opportunities for industry insiders and innovators to share ideas and solve problems to strengthen their electronics recycling businesses.
“The ISRI expo and conference brings together the leaders of the electronics recycling industry from all across the globe and is a must-attend event for anyone involved in the industry,” Eric Harris, Associate Counsel and Director of Government and International Affairs for ISRI, said.
Last year’s agenda involved real-world discussions of current topics in the industry, including discussions on CRT management, panel discussions on international trade in electronics recycling, workshops introducing non-certified recyclers to the R2/ RIOS™ certification program and discussions on why obtaining the certifications are vital to the industry.
While the full schedule has yet to be released, here are some of the confirmed events on the schedule at the April event.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10
Educational Program –
2 Short Courses

  • 8 a.m. – noon Electronics Recycling Fundamentals – what you need to know

Course Description: This short course is designed for those getting involved or interested in electronics recycling. It is intended to provide an overview of the industry and key factors that affect it – including materials processing, reuse, and responsible recycling practices.

  • 1-5 p.m. R2/RIOS-Certified Electronics Recycler™Promoting value & pushing the evolution of the industry

Course Description: This short course is designed for those interested in certification but who have not yet gone through the process. It will include tutorials on the R2 and RIOS standards – including pending changes – as well as how to prepare for certification. And it will provide perspectives on the importance and value of certification from OEMs, Recyclers and Refurbishers.

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

  • 10-11:15 a.m.: Kick-off to the Electronics Recycling SUMMIT® Program

Session Description: This initial session of the electronics recycling track for the ISRI Convention program includes an overview of the ISRI Electronics Division and the program track – as well as two special presentations on the “Electronics Recycling Market Outlook”.

  • 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.: Spotlight on Electronics

Session Description: This year’s Spotlight on Electronics is a special panel of venture capitalists on “Venture Capital Perspectives on the Electronics Recycling Industry” – with a focus on industry M&A and consolidation activities, considerations and outlook. It addresses the question – why invest in the electronics recycling industry?

  • 2-3:15 p.m.: How Electronics Recyclers Handle Problem Materials Responsibly

Session Description: There are a number of materials in electronics equipment that present problems and challenges for a recycler – because of the potential hazards, regulations and costs involved. This session will address the proper handling and processing alternatives available for CRT glass, batteries and mercury-containing devices.

FRIDAY, APRIL 12

  • 10-11:15 a.m.: U.S. – Global Summit on Electronics Recycling

Developed with the U.S. Department of Commerce

Session Description: The U.S.-Global Summit on Electronics Recycling is comprised of a panel of international experts who will provide perspectives, updates and outlooks on electronics recycling regulations and programs in their countries.

  • 11:30 a.m-12:45 p.m.: Maximizing Value in Electronics Recycling

Session Description: This session will introduce new processing technologies, methodologies and best practices in electronics recycling – including hydrometallurgical precious metals refining, optimizing reuse and plastics recycling.

SATURDAY, APRIL 13

  • 8 – 9:30 a.m. The Chair-Elect’s General Session Speaker: Tom Brokaw, Former Anchor and Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News

For more information, visit http://www.isriconvention.org/