ISRI: Federal Export Ban Legislation Unnecessary for Maturing E-Scrap Industry

The 2013 E-Scrap Conference in Orlando concluded yesterday with a debate between ISRI’s Eric Harris and Neil Peters-Michaud of CAER over the legitimacy of HR 2791 (RERA), introduced in the House of Representatives recently by Congressman Gene Green of Texas.

Harris made a compelling case against the legislation arguing that the market conditions don’t support the need for such extreme trade restrictions.  He cited a March 2013 report on the export of UEPs by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), the International Data Corporation survey, as well as a green paper issued by the United Nations University, which all discuss the significant positive changes in both U.S. and foreign practices involving electronics recycling and exports – including new recycling technologies, environmental, health and safety certification standards, new regulations and greater enforcement. The ITC found that only 5.1 percent of all used electronics products (UEPs) collected each year in the U.S. are currently at risk for improper recycling and disposal.  The U.S. market is recycling over 80 of all the UEPs being collected.  And the vast majority of exports are either shipped as commodity grade materials or tested fully functioning devices.

ISRI’s government relations department has been actively meeting with members of Congress over the issue, and according to Harris, “When [members of Congress] looked at the issue, they said, ‘What’s the problem?’” The bill is currently not on any legislative calendars.  In the unlikely event the bill were to pass, Harris made the case that it would violate a number of U.S. trade obligations by discriminating against developing countries and economies in transition and move the industry into hazardous waste management.  Peters-Michaud argued the potential regulations is necessary to put domestic processors on a level playing field with less sophisticated overseas processors.  Harris challenged the assertion asking, is this about protecting the environment or about protecting certain commercial interests?  Many are starting to suspect that it is the latter.

Register for ISRI’s Safety Webinar Understanding Lead Exposures and the Hazards to Your Employees and Company Today!

On Thursday, September 19th at 4:00 p.m. (eastern)  ISRI ‘s Live Learning Center will host an important webinar that will discuss the hazards of lead exposure and how to manage the risks it poses to your company and employees.  The webinar will feature ISRI’s director of safety, John Gilstrap.  Gilstrap will present an overview of the hazards of lead, some exposure control strategies and what the law actually requires in the management of lead exposures.  He will also discuss the increase in OSHA enforcement and the stunning fines it is assessing to companies that fail to test for hazards and/or fail to mitigate the hazards when they are found.  Lead exposure is a common hazard in virtually all corners of the recycling industry.  If your company uses cutting torches, handles automotive radiators, breaks cathode ray tubes, or performs any number of other common processing operations, there is a reasonable likelihood that your employees are over-exposed to lead.

This is one webinar that you won’t want to miss!  Register today by going to ISRI’s website ( www.isri.org/webinar ) and click on the blue “Register Now” button at the bottom of the page.  To register, you will need a user id and password.  If you do not know your log on credentials or would like more information about this webinar, please contact Jonathan Levy or Brannan Meyers at webinar@isri.org.

The Changes Ahead in Certification

The opening plenary session Thursday morning, The Changes Ahead in Certification, explores what the future holds for the R2 and e-Stewards certification standards. R2 recently released R2:2013, which greatly increases the oversight and quality assurance tools critical to a voluntary certification program. With a more stringent, accountable program, R2:2013 can be put into practice anywhere in the world.

During the session, which takes place from 8:30 – 10 a.m. in National Ballrooms A-D, R2 Solutions’ John Lingelbach will discuss the changes and what else lies ahead. For a preview of what Lingelbach will talk about, check out his article in the July/August issue of Scrap magazine.

Consumer Electronics and Recycling Industries Announce the Winners of the Second Recycling CRT Glass Challenge

During a session yesterday at the E-Scrap Conference, the Consumer Electronics Association(CEA)®, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries Inc. (ISRI)®, and InnoCentive, the pioneer in crowdsourcing and open innovation, announced the winners of the second “CRT Challenge” to develop compelling economic and environmentally preferable solutions for recycling old cathode ray tube (CRT) televisions and monitors. The winning solution proposed using recycled CRT glass as a component for vitrification of nuclear waste. Vitrification involves the melting of nuclear waste materials with glass-forming additives so that the final vitreous product incorporates the waste contaminants.

There are significant volumes of nuclear waste currently planned to be vitrified, especially in the U.S. Dr. Thomas Engelhardt, who is a senior executive advisor to a major international investment fund and holds a doctoral degree in physical chemistry, developed the proposal. His graduate and postgraduate studies at various international research facilities have focused on the characterization of molecular liquids with X-ray, neutron and EXAFS spectroscopy. Dr. Engelhardt will receive a $10,000 award for his CRT Challenge solution.

The runner-up proposed a two-step solution: (1) conducting an extensive literature review on manufacturing processes for using CRT-related waste glass, including cost analysis (raw materials transport) and the impact on the environment; and, (2) creating an approach for developing a property/composition model for using CRT glass waste forms to treat nuclear wastes, by making chemical durable borosilicate glasses geologically stable. Dr. Mariano Velez, a senior research engineer at Mo-Sci Corp., will receive $5,000 for the runner-up solution. Dr. Velez holds a Ph.D. in ceramic engineering and has conducted glass research for more than 30 years, focusing on glasses with very high chemical durability, glass-reinforced polymer composites, materials manufacturing, design and properties optimization, use of nanoparticles and nanofibers, and evaluation of recycled and waste materials.

“These award-winning ideas are the latest step in determining how to responsibly recycle billions of pounds of lead-heavy CRT glass as consumers switch from CRT electronics to liquid crystal, light-emitting diode (LED) and plasma displays,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA vice president for environmental affairs and industry sustainability. “We applaud the winners and thank everyone who participated. CEA will continue to work with government agencies, manufacturers, retailers and recyclers to explore these and other emerging solutions throughout the industry.”

“The innovative solutions provided by the CRT Challenge present a great opportunity to expand and develop new markets for recycled CRT glass and help recyclers as the industry transitions from CRTs to newer display technologies,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “We applaud the winners and all those who participated, and thank CEA for their partnership in addressing this critical issue in the recycling industry.”

“It’s gratifying to see CEA and ISRI banding together to find more effective ways to recycle cathode ray tubes, some of the biggest offenders when it comes to the growing e-waste issue in America,” said Alpheus Bingham, Ph.D., founder and board member of InnoCentive. “The most recent CRT Challenge, as well as the winning responses, are a testament to the power of crowdsourcing solutions to difficult environmental problems. We look forward to following the progress of these proposed new approaches.”

CEA and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sponsored the first CRT Challenge in 2011, and it yielded three winners. Mario Rosato proposed a closed-loop process for separating lead from glass in a form with high market value for a variety of industries. Nulife Glass Processing Ltd. proposed a solution that utilizes an extremely energy efficient electrically heated furnace, uniquely designed to produce minimal emissions; and operates these furnaces in New York and the UK. The third winner was Robert Kirby, who submitted an idea for combining CRT glass with cement to create tile and bricks that are tested, labeled and sold specifically for applications where lead shielding is required, such as X-ray and fluoroscopy rooms.

CEA and ISRI will work with the winners of this year’s CRT Challenge to further understanding of these solutions among CRT stakeholders, with the goals of raising awareness, helping to create market demand for used CRT glass, and encouraging government consideration of these approaches.

ISRI Steps Up Safety Efforts in Light of Pending NIOSH Reports

ISRI’s electronics division leadership has agreed to step up ISRI’s safety efforts for facilities with potential high risk exposure for certain heavy metals such as lead.  The leadership has asked ISRI staff, Eric Harris, Director of Government and International Affairs and John Gilstrap, Director of Safety, to reach out to NIOSH (The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) while at E-Scrap to better understand a pending workplace health hazard evaluation (HHE) expected to be released from NIOSH in the coming months.

The pending HHE is based on a voluntary NIOSH inspection at an e-stewards certified facility that processes CRT glass.  Notwithstanding the HHE report, ISRI’s leadership is committed to ensuring that the industry has the proper awareness training and guidance to protect the health and safety of its workers.  Initial feedback from NIOSH supports the need to focus ISRI’s safety efforts on preventing initial exposures.  Moreover, when there is a reasonable possibility that workers may be exposed to such risks, electronics recyclers have an affirmative obligation to prove that their workers are not being exposed.

As part of ISRI’s “Safely or Not at All” policy, the electronics division is committed to preparing additional education and awareness training opportunities and further guidance to its members to identify and prevent risks and protect workers from such potential exposures.

ISRI’s Director of Safety, John Gilstrap, will be offering a webinar on lead exposures on September 19, 2013, at 4 p.m. EST.

Full Listing of ISRI Events at E-Scrap

ISRI will be participating in and hosting a number of events at this year’s E-Scrap Conference. Below is a list of all the events ISRI will be involved in. As always, stop by booth 707 for more information or just to say hello!

Tuesday, September 10

ISRI Electronics Recycling Educational Program: “What’s New in R2 & RIOS”
8:00 a.m. – noon

ISRI Electronics Recycling Educational Program: “How to Maximize Value in Reuse”
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Welcome Reception hosted by ISRI
5:30 – 7:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 12

Concurrent Session H: The Return of the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act
1:00 to 2:30 p.m. National Ballrooms C-D

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.

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.