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/

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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/

Focus on electronics recycling needed in Florida

Recycling in Florida can be a touchy subject for the environmental community. For example, when the state passed its landmark plan in 2010 setting a 75 percent recycling goal for the state, lawmakers allowed the creation of energy from waste-to-energy plants to be counted as diversion from landfill. The question of whether waste-to-energy counts as recycling is one of the most divisive questions in the environmental community, and in Florida, that’s a big one – 20,000 tons of municipal solid waste is sent to waste-to-energy facilities each day.

But one thing that most should agree on in Florida when it comes to recycling is more can be done to encourage recycling of electronics in the Sunshine state. While the state encourages electronics recycling and has resources available online, there is no state-wide policy on the recycling of electronics; whether or not electronics can be sent through the regular municipal waste stream is handled on a city and county basis. It’s impossible to know how if electronics are being sent to Waste-To-Energy facilities, and in what volumes.

Some of the state’s 12 WTE facilities in the state make an effort to prevent electronics and other potentially hazardous material from being included in the solid waste stream. Covanta Energy, which operates WTE facilities in Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Lake, Lee and Pasco counties, takes an active approach to keep electronics and other recyclables out of the waste stream. Generally speaking, electronics are banned from disposal at waste-from-energy facilities in the U.S. anyway due to the toxins released from the burning of the material, but that’s not to say they are all kept out of the system.

“If something sneaks through, our pollution control systems can catch the pollutants and keep it out of the environment,” said James Regan, Media Relations Manager for Covanta Energy. Covanta uses several layers of visual inspections to pull not only electronics but also other recyclables out of the waste stream before the materials are burned and the released energy is converted to steam. In the newly released sustainability report, Covanta reported recycling 430,000 tons of metals in 2011, out of 20 million tons of waste on average.

However, not all electronics have detectable metals, and  if a mobile phone or small computer is tossed in a trash bag, it’s not always going to get pulled out.

“We pull stuff out with great frequency,” he said, “but we don’t want it in there to begin with.”

Residents in the areas Covanta operates are generally educated in recycling awareness, he said.

What the state needs – and the 24 other states in the nation – is a state-wide electronics recycling program coupled with a law that bans disposal of electronics from landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. Coupled with a strong public education campaign, this is the only way to make sure valuable electronics are being recycled and not sent up in smoke.

PA to enforce electronics disposal ban for residents

Later this month, Pennsylvanians will be required to stop disposing of their electronics in landfills and begin recycling instead. While manufacturers were required to start collecting and recycling e-scrap in 2012, the disposal ban didn’t go into place this year.

Landfill bans are amongst the most effective way to increase recycling of electronic scrap. The Pennsylvania law covers the most commonly recycled electronics: TVs, monitors, computers and accessories.

To date, 30 recyclers have been issued permits to recycle and prepare for reuse electronics through the state program. On the state website,  companies and residents seeking an electronics recycling firm can see pertinent information about recyclers approved through the state program, including EPA permitting information, the types of materials the recyclers handle and how the materials are handled (recycled, reuse, refurbish, brokered, etc.) and if the recycler regularly audits end-use markets for the materials they recycle.

Knowing how an electronics recycler intends to handle the electronic scrap products they produces is very, very important. Coupled with a strong environmental certification – such as R2/RIOS ™ – businesses and residents can be assured their electronics are being handled in an ethical, environmentally safe way that places a premium on data security and reuse.

For more on the state’s electronics recycling laws, click HERE.

For a list of R2 (Responsible Recycling) certified companies, click HERE.

Registration now open for ISRI’s 2013 convention and expo

Registration is now open for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries’ 2013 Convention and Expo.

Held in April, the ISRI event presents a unique networking and learning opportunity for electronics recyclers. Attended by thousands of people, the event draws together high-level recycling executives, innovators and other people on the front lines of the recycling industry.

Last year’s conference featured several workshops and discussions focused solely on electronics recycling, such as an examination of national Electronics Stewardship agendas, a discussion of exports of commodities, and the importance of certification in electronics recycling.

The conference last year also included an international summit which drew together high-ranking officials from foreign environmental ministers and the United Nations. Another valuable discussion, many attendees said, were workshops dealing with CRT handling and legislative efforts.

Because the convention is open to recycling of all commodities – metals, plastic, glass, etc. – it’s an opportunity for cross-disciplinary exchange of ideas. Vendors from around the world bring the latest recycling technologies and demonstrate new ideas and innovations, all geared toward developing safer, more efficient recycling methods and processes.

The convention is open to the general public; students with an interest in the recycling industry are also encouraged to consider attending.

This year’s convention will be held in Orlando at the Orange County Convention Center. For more information on the convention, visit www.isriconvention.org. The event runs from April 9-13, 2013.

 

AER Worldwide Certified to R2 standards

AER Worldwide, headquartered in Fremont, Ca., has received Responsible Recycling certification at three of its worldwide facilities, according to R2 Solutions.

AER, on its website, identifies itself as a “de-manufacturer with a focus on the redistribution of components. It also end-of-life processes the non-resellable part of the electronic waste stream it receives from its customers in an environmentally sound manner.”

The company has facilities in Asia, Europe and North America.

The three facilities mean that 301 electronics recycling facilities are now certified to the standard. Growth in the certification has been brisk this year; 200 facilities were certified in May 2012, meaning the standard has seen growth of 50 percent in six months.

Facilities have been certified to the R2 standard since 2010.

The Responsible Recycling (R2) certification was developed through a two and a half year process that involved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and industry stakeholders. R2 requires recyclers to manage materials properly to protect the environment, human health and safety, and prohibit illegal export of hazardous materials.  The standard is supported by government, manufacturer, recycler and non-governmental organization stakeholders.

R2 is getting an update – R2 Solutions, the body which oversees the standard, is currently seeking comment on R2:2013.

For more information on R2/RIOS™ standards, visit The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry’s new website at www.isri.org/certifyme.

More Canadians covered by electronics recycling laws

Nearly all of Canada will be covered by some form of electronics recycling mandate as new Extended Producer Responsibility legislation comes online in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The new government plan calls for electronics manufacturers with market presence within the province to develop recycling plans for their products within 120 days. These plans will be examined by the provincial governments’ Multi-Materials Stewardship Board.  The new legislative scheme was authorized under amendments to Labrador and Newfoundland’s existing Waste Management Regulations under the Environmental Protection Act.

“Newfoundlanders and Labradorians have been looking forward to the introduction of an e-waste recycling program and we are happy to introduce these changes to the regulations,” said Leigh Puddester, Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the MMSB. “We have been working closely with electronics manufacturers to see them take a leadership role in handling the end-of-life treatment of their products. By having producers take this responsibility, they will increasingly think about ways to redesign their products to be more environmentally friendly and easier to recycle.”

The government estimates that each year, provincial households generate 1,551 tons of recyclable electronics and the institutional, commercial and industrial sector generates 1,055 tons.

With the announcement, made earlier this month, only four provinces in Canada do not have electronics recycling mandates: Yukon, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories and New Brunswick. With more than 750,000 residents, New Brunswick is the most populous of these; the other three territories, located in the sparsely settled northern regions, have less than 50,000 residents each.

For more information on changes to the Waste Management Regulations can be found at www.assembly.nl.ca or www.mmsb.nl.ca.

Best practices for new state EPR programs

The Product Stewardship Institute has released a new seven-page document that serves as a primer for governments looking to enact extended producer responsibility programs for electronics.

Currently 23 U.S. states have some form of EPR for electronics, covering a range of different products and measuring the effectiveness of the EPR programs in several different ways. PSI is looking for a way to educate state governments on what works and what doesn’t in this patchwork quilt of laws and legislation through the new ‘best practices’ document.

“EPR laws for electronics have boosted the recycling of scrap electronics, recovered precious materials that were being wasted, and created thou-sands of recycling jobs while saving governments millions of dollars. Each law is different, however, and some laws have resulted in higher recycling rates and more efficient collection and recycling infrastructure,” according to the document.

PSI lays out a primer of sorts for new EPR programs, discussing the pros and cons of opting for a program that has, for example, a limited number of covered electronic devices compared to one that accepts a broader range of products.

The document also gives tips on how to best fund a program and how to confront certain challenges, such as developing a list of manufacturers who sell products within the state who would have EPR obligations and responsibilities under the new law.

PSI also discusses the need to use responsible, ethical recyclers such as those who have obtained the Responsible Recycling standard, when crafting state laws.

To read the document, click here.