E-Scrap Conference 2013: That’s a Wrap

ISRI would like to thank everyone that stopped by our booth at the 11th Annual E-Scrap Conference – the largest yet! It was great to greet old friends and see new faces. We welcome all new ISRI members who signed up this week and look forward to working with you for years to come. Please do not hesitate to contact us at any time with questions or how you can take advantage of the many services ISRI offers. Feel free to email ISRI Director of Membership Tom Crane or call him at 202-662-8536.

We hope you all had a safe trip home, particularly those on the East Coast who faced significant travel delays.

ISRI would also like to thank those who helped sponsor Monday’s opening reception, which ISRI hosted: AERC Recycling Solutions; Electronic Recyclers International, Inc.; HiTech Assets, Inc.; MRP Company; Regency Technologies; and Wistron.

And finally, a special thanks to Resource Recycling for being such wonderful hosts and making this event possible. We look forward to seeing everyone next year in Orlando, October 22-23.

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.

ISRI to State the Case Why RERA is Not the Solution

The 2013 E-Scrap Conference will close later today with Institute of Scrap Recycling Industry’s Eric Harris laying out the facts as to why the “Responsible Electronics Recycling Act” (RERA) is not the solution. Despite its misleading name, Harris will point to a body of evidence showing the legislation is quite the opposite of responsible.

H.R. 2791, introduced this summer by Rep. Gene  Green (TX-29) will negatively influence recycling efforts by undermining existing policies and initiatives, such as those proposed by the Obama Administration and the Interagency Task Force on Federal Electronics Stewardship, and will also violate  international trade laws by unilaterally and arbitrarily banning exports to certain countries.

“The recycling industry applauds the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) and Congressman Green for introducing legislation with the goal of advancing responsible electronics recycling, but like H.R. 2791’s predecessors, the bill is fatally flawed,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “This bill will do nothing to end irresponsible recycling, and further, will limit any opportunity to promote environmentally sound electronics recycling standards in other countries by perpetuating the outdated approach of identifying environmental risk based simply on geographic location rather than responsible operating practices.

“The determination of whether one can export UEPs to a given recycler or refurbisher should turn upon the basis of the receiving facilities’ qualifications to handle the material in an environmentally-sound and safe manner, not the arbitrary happenstance of whether the facility happens to be located in an OECD country, the EU or Lichtenstein.”

The recycling industry supports efforts that contribute to responsible recycling globally and job creation within the U.S.  The best way to accomplish this is through strict enforcement of current laws – domestic and international; restrictions (such as notification, recordkeeping and due diligence requirements) on the export of unprocessed, non-working UEPs to any country for the purpose of recycling, reuse or refurbishment; a ban on the export of UEPs for landfill or incineration for disposal; and the promotion of global trade in tested, working UEPs for reuse and commodity grade e-scrap for recycling by industrial consumers worldwide.

“We support shutting down bad actors that refuse to recycle responsibly, but we fundamentally disagree with the approach of H.R. 2971 and do not believe that onerous regulations based on misinformation, as clearly stated in the U.S. ITC report, will address the problem,” said Lane Epperson, president and co-founder of HiTech Assets, Inc., an IT asset disposition provider in Oklahoma City, OK, and Memphis, TN.

A March 2013 report on the export of UEPs by the U.S. International Trade Commission, as well as a recent green paper issued by the United Nations University, both 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, and new regulations and greater enforcement – since the initial NGO anecdotes on the informal sector were released more than 10 years ago, and should have never been relied upon.

Unfortunately, H.R. 2791 does just that – it relies upon the false premise that up to 80 percent of UEPs collected in the U.S. are exported and dumped in non-OECD countries located outside the EU – a statistic unchanged and put forward by CAER and the Basel Action Network repeatedly before the earliest versions of H.R. 2791 were introduced back in 2009.  In contrast, the ITC found that only 5.1 percent of all UEPs collected each year in the U.S. are currently at risk for improper recycling and disposal.

“The legislation relies on an outdated, disproven model that fails to reflect the reality of the present or future global market,” said Joe Pickard, ISRI’s chief economist. “Moreover, supporters of this bill are trying to fabricate jobs out of a market that simply does not exist. In reality, H.R. 2791will actually reduce domestic competition and lead to job losses.  Even the ITC makes it clear throughout its recently completed report that the export of refurbished UEPs for reuse as well as for commodity materials from recycling plays a very positive role both for the U.S. and the importing countries.”

According to the report, “Assessment of Efforts to Restrict the Trade of Electronic Scrap on Electronic Scrap Recycling Industry Jobs and Exports,” by John Dunham and Associates, many smaller firms would be forced out of business and workers let go should H.R. 2791 pass. As the findings state, a ban “will crowd out small existing businesses and inhibit the entry of newer businesses.”

The session takes place from 1 – 2:30 p.m. in the National Ballrooms C-D.

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.

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.

Infographic: eScrap A World of Opportunity

Over the last decade, electronics recycling has grown into a more than $20 billion industry that employs more than 45,000 employees in the U.S., with still a great deal of potential for further growth. ISRI has released a new infographic that illustrates how far the industry has come and what the future could hold, showing where used electronics come from and where they go, including how more than 82 percent of electronics collected are recycled right here in the U.S. Feel free to download the infographic and share with your customers and others.

eScrap Infographic

Video: Congressional Update on Cell Phone Unlocking

In this short video from the E-Scrap Conference in Orlando, Kyle Wiens of iFixit discusses efforts in Congress to reverse the Library of Congress’ decision to make cell phone unlocking illegal. Legislation that makes cell phone unlocking legal, at least temporarily, has a promising future as it moves forward on this issue that is of high importance for ISRI members.

ISRI Offers Educational Programs to E-Scrap Attendees

On Tuesday, ISRI sponsored 2 short courses on electronics recycling. Both were very well attended and had very lively interaction. The morning session,

How to Maximize Value in Reuse

A full audience listens to tips on how to maximize value in reuse.

What’s New in R2 & RIOS?,  introduced the recent changes to R2 and RIOS as well as the value of RIOS as the certified management system for R2. Also included were a tutorial on Downstream Due Diligence and testimonial experiences from a certified electronics recycler and a refurbisher.

In the afternoon, How to Maximize Value in Reuse, had industry leaders and experts in the reuse, refurbishment and resale of used electronics share their experiences and knowledge on how to find opportunities to maximize value. Included were unique examples of returns, repair, wireless devices, non-traditional equipment and components.

With Announcement of New iPhone, Poll Finds Questions Abound about Recycling Old Cell Phones

As plans for the new iPhone 5S and 5C are expected to be announced today at Apple’s Media Day, a new online poll conducted by Earth911 for the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) finds that nearly 60 percent of the people who do not recycle old cell phones fail to do so because they either do not know where to recycle them or don’t trust that personal data will be destroyed. The results of this poll were released at the annual E-Scrap Conference, a gathering of more than 1,000 electronics recyclers, being held this week in Orlando.

“As people anxiously await the arrival of the latest iPhone, it is important to keep in mind the need to recycle old cell phones,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “The results of this poll fall in line with the recent report by the U.S. International Trade Commission indicating that only 25 percent of all household used electronic products are recycled. Using a certified electronics recycler guarantees that all personal data in the phone will be destroyed and gives the phone a second life either through the recovery of scrap commodities or refurbishment and use by those in this country or abroad who might not otherwise have access to such technology.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for every million cell phones, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered and reused.

“There’s still so much confusion about how to recycle cell phones and whether it can be done without potentially exposing personal data, even with an eco-savvy audience such as our readership,” said Mario Medina, creative director at Earth911. “Explaining the damage that e-scrap has on the environment and educating people on the options available for safely recycling cell phones will go a long way toward increasing the recycling rates.”

When considering an electronics recycler, consumers should take the following into consideration:

  • How long the recycler has been in business;
  • How long the recycler has been handling electronics;
  • Whether the recycler guarantees data destruction; and
  • Most importantly, whether the recycler is certified to handle electronics to the highest level of environmental, health and safety standards. A list of certified electronics recyclers can be found online at www.certifymerecycling.org/find-certified-facility.

To find out where to recycle other items at a location near you, visit the Earth911 Recycling Guide at earth911.com/recycling.

The poll question and answer results are below:

What is the main reason you haven’t recycled your old cell phone(s)?

  1. I might need it down the road. 21%
  2. I don’t know where to take it to be recycled. 30%
  3. I am worried about the safety of my personal info. 29%
  4. I just never get around to it. 20%

Note: The Earth911/ISRI Opinion Poll was conducted via the Earth911 website (www.Earth911.com) from June 20, 2013, to September 9, 2013, and was answered by 923 individuals.

New Pricing Structure Announced for the Recycling Industry Operating Standard (RIOS™)

Recycling facilities, including non-profit organizations, are now able to become Recycling Industry Operating Standard™ (RIOS™) members at a reduced cost under a more streamlined price model.

For the first time, RIOS™ membership will now be available for a flat annual fee. Beginning immediately, all facilities are eligible for this new cost structure. These changes are permanent and reflect an ongoing effort to improve industry-wide recycling practices through responsible recycling certification.

RIOS™ certification is a globally accepted quality, environmental, health and safety (QEH&S) management system designed for and by recyclers. As the premiere certification for all scrap recyclers, RIOS™ provides assurance that a facility’s operations meet the highest standards in the industry. Additionally, RIOS™ meets the requirement in the R2:2013 Standard for an approved EH&S management system.

“With the changes to the R2 Standard, this is an ideal time for facilities to enroll in the RIOS™ program to comply with R2:2013 provision,” said RIOS™ Director Darrell Kendall. “The pricing initiative further raises awareness of the RIOS™ certification while offering recycling facilities of all sizes access to the best standard in the industry.”

The annual pricing structure follows:


Discounted Rate for ISRI Members

Non-Profit and Governmental

Standard RIOS™ Rate

First Facility




Each Additional Facility





The announcement of the new pricing model will be presented on September 10 at an educational certification session hosted by ISRI at the annual E-Scrap Conference in Orlando. RIOS™ will be promoted on the trade show floor at booth #709 during the conference. Attendees are encouraged to stop by the RIOS™ booth to meet the new RIOS™ Director, Darrell Kendall, to spin the RIOS™ trivia wheel and to learn about the “RIOS™ Golden Ticket.”

To learn more, or to become a RIOS™ member, contact Darrell Kendall at dkendall@certifymerecycling.org or 202-662-8528 or visit www.certifymerecycling.org.