E-Scrap News Magazine

Updated: 1 day 2 hours ago

Idaho firm says plasma is "ultimate solution" to CRT crisis

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 14:00
Idaho firm says plasma is "ultimate solution" to CRT crisis

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

April 18, 2014

A plasma company located in southern Idaho has built two facilities that could start processing significant streams of CRT glass by the middle of next year.

Mike Mills, the CEO of Recovered Energy, told E-Scrap News the company plans to use a plasma method to process up to 120,000 tons of CRT glass per year between two facilities -- one in Pocatello, Idaho, where the company is headquartered, and another in Palm Harbor, Florida.

The company says the facilities will each operate six days per week and will be able to handle 200 tons of glass per day. The facilities cost a total of $52 million to plan and build, not including real estate costs, according to the company.

"We've put a lot of money into this process to make sure it works and I believe we have the ultimate solution," Mills told E-Scrap News.

And what will Recovered Energy be charging firms to take on CRT loads? According to Mills, current pricing by Recovered Energy is "comparable" to pricing of glass destined for India's Videocon, the largest processor of U.S. CRT glass in operation.

Mills said while the process may have the same end-goal as a more traditional lead smelter — successfully separating lead from glass — plasma technology is a unique application.

Operating in an oxygen-starved environment, plasma, which is often referred to as a "fourth state of matter" and can be as hot as 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, "breaks everything down to an elemental state," Mills said. "Once the bonds are broken, you can separate the lead and all the other oxides out to make sure you have clean [lead-free] glass."

Mills added the plasma will be heated only to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the lead originally contained in the glass does not gasify.

Plasma has long been investigated for use in innovation. U.S. researchers first began researching the technology in the 1960s, and some e-scrap companies have previously looked into ways to use the technology to possibly recover a wide range of valuable materials, including rare earths.

Linda McFarland, former VP of business development at 5R Processors, said that company investigated CRT glass processing using plasma "dating back to 2011," but found the method was too costly of an investment for too small of a return for the company.

McFarland, now an executive at IMS Electronics Recycling, suggested Recovered Energy could process other materials as well. While costly, one advantage of plasma processing is that it can work on a "batch" system, allowing a company – in theory – to also process other types of e-scrap in intermittent batches. "That could be what they're banking on," McFarland said.

Mills, however, says his company plans to process only CRT glass for the next 10 years using a continuous feed system. Running a batch system while processing 200 tons of glass per day, Mills says, is "impossible."

He said when the U.S. CRT glass supply begins to wane the facilities could be used to process medical waste.

Recovered Energy has begun accepting CRT glass at the Idaho and Florida facilities from about 16 suppliers and is in the process of obtaining complete permitting from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Florida Environmental Protection Agency. The Idaho facility houses both separation and plasma operations, while the Florida facility will use an off-site plasma hub "half of a mile away," Mills said.

The company goal, according to Mills, is to get both plasma operations fully operational by the middle of 2015, selling recovered lead and donating de-leaded glass to various municipalities.

Mills says plans are also in the works to build similar plasma CRT glass processing facilities in Arizona and Ohio.

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E-Scrap 2014: A big-picture look

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:59
E-Scrap 2014: A big-picture look

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 18, 2014

We all know the major trends that are quickly re-shaping the e-scrap industry. Think processor consolidation, CRT glass struggles and the possibility of material export regulations. But understanding exactly how those developments intertwine and shape market opportunities can be a bit of mind boggle. Fortunately, E-Scrap 2014 will be bringing the top minds in the sector together to explore the issues and offer attendees an illuminating big-picture look at electronics recycling.

Make your plans now to head to the one-of-a-kind conference this October. The education sessions, networking events, bustling trade show and collection of ancillary meetings will give you a textured understanding of how the industry is developing — and where your business fits in.

E-Scrap 2014 will be held Oct. 22-23 at Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek. The 2013 edition saw more than 1,300 attendees and 125 exhibiting companies, so plan now to secure your spot at this fall's conference. Get all the latest information at e-scrapconference.com.

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CEA releases study on remaining CRT tonnages

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:58
CEA releases study on remaining CRT tonnages

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

April 18, 2014

A new survey by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) suggests there are approximately 3.5 million tons of CRT TVs and computers still in U.S. households.

That figure, based off of telephone interviews with 1,023 adults throughout the country and determined by the National Center for Electronics Recycling (NCER), is well below prior estimates. A white paper commissioned by Kuusakoski U.S. and released last fall estimates there are 6.2 million tons of CRT devices left to process over the next 10 years — nearly twice as much as CEA's finding.

The Kuusakoski study includes CRT devices from homes, businesses and institutions, whereas the CEA study looks only at the residential CRT stream — explaining, at least in part, the wide disparity between the two estimates.

Jason Linnell, NCER's executive director, also told E-Scrap News past studies, including Kuusakoski's, relied on older, sales-focused models developed by the U.S. EPA that represented "the best available [methodology] at the time." New survey findings by CEA "generally correlate" with a more recent study, and a somewhat controversial one, penned by MIT, NCER and the Material System Laboratory, Linnell says.

"It may be that consumers are disposing of old CRT units at a slightly more rapid pace … which could bring down the 'available CRT' numbers below previous projections," Linnell stated, adding the survey "depends on consumers understanding what is a 'tube TV' and 'tube monitor' and then accurately relating how many of those units are still in their home."

Less than half of CEA study respondents — 46 percent — said they still used or stored at least one CRT device. About 41 percent said they had recycled a CRT device.

Arriving at an accurate estimate of how many CRTs remain in the U.S. has emerged as an important point for the host of CRT recycling ventures starting to enter the market. Most industry players have operated under the assumption that nearly 400,000 tons of CRT glass - with glass accounting for about 62 percent of the overall weight of a CRT device - will need processing in the U.S. each year for the next decade.

If CEA's new figure is more accurate, approximately 2.17 million tons of CRT glass remains for processing in the U.S., or 217,000 tons every year. "This is still an awful lot of CRTs," Linnell noted.

Speaking at the ISRI Convention last week in Las Vegas, CEA's vice president of environmental affairs, Walter Alcorn, echoed that sentiment. "There are still a lot of CRTs out there. ... Six billion pounds of CRT TVs and 1 billion pounds of CRT monitors," Alcorn said. "But it's not infinite. This too shall pass, in terms of the CRT stream."

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Earth Day shines a light on e-scrap recycling

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:57
Earth Day shines a light on e-scrap recycling

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 18, 2014

With the 45th annual Earth Day taking place next week, we take a look at the ways a number of e-scrap companies and organizations around the globe are marking the occasion.

Battery recycling group Call2Recycle has put together an online toolkit to help educate consumers on proper disposal of rechargeable batteries and cellphones.

Noting that "Earth Day long ago outgrew its April 22 place in the calendar year," CalRecycle, the governmental body in charge of waste and recycling for the state of California, has put together a vast array of events taking place throughout the month and into May. Check out the list here.

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is looking ahead to April 23 for a lively Twitter discussion on recycling old devices and the latest developments from the trade group's eCycling Leadership Initiative. Join in from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern and use the hashtag #CEAgreen to be eligible to win win a new wireless sound system from Samsung — just don’t forget to recycle your old one.

Kid-focused environmental organization Earth Rangers is gathering momentum in the lead-up to Earth Day by encouraging parents and their children to take on special Earth Rangers Missions. The Battery Blitz Mission has already led to the recycling of more than 30,000 batteries by 4,000 members, and the Canadian group is banking on Earth Day to push participation even more.

In advance of Earth Day, ecoATM, the automated electronics trade-in kiosk company, has released findings from a recent survey that offers some data on Americans' tendency to let old electronics collect dust. According to the company, 57 percent of survey respondents said they owned idle phones and devices and 39 percent said they owned at least two. The most discouraging finding? Just 46 percent of respondents said they would even consider recycling their old gadgets.

PBS will premiere "A Fierce Green Fire" on April 22 at 9 p.m. Eastern The documentary tracks modern environmentalism, which the film depicts as "one of the largest movements of the 20th century and one of the keys to the 21st." Directed by Oscar-nominee Mark Kitchell, the documentary explores a variety of topics, including waste reduction and conservation.

Global electronics recycling firm Sims Recycling Solutions will be hosting a series of e-scrap collection events throughout the world this Earth Day and has compiled a list of tips for conscientious citizens to live — or at least recycle — by. Included in the list are Sims' pleas to "put off the upgrade" and "reuse what you can," after a recent event survey showed that just 20 percent of dropped-off devices were truly end-of-life.

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Certification scorecard from E-Scrap News

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:57
Certification scorecard

April 18, 2014

With the roster of companies attaining third-party certifications or audits continuing to grow, E-Scrap News has compiled a round-up of the firms announcing certification this past week.

American Document Destruction of St. Louis, Missouri; Automated Shredding, Inc. of Fort Mill, South Carolina; Business Records Management LLC of Pittsburgh; Business Records Management LLC of Wickliffe, Ohio; Document Shredding & Storage of Lubbock, Texas; PAFACOM, Inc. of Vineland, New Jersey; Proshred New York of Elmsford, New York; Record Keepers LLC of Bismarck, North Dakota; Security Shredding Mobile Document Destruction of Lufkin, Texas; Tri-State Shredding of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Xpresshred LLC of Englewood, Colorado have either achieved or renewed their NAID Certifications for Physical Destruction of Hard Drives.

Announcement: E-Scrap News has added OHSAS 18001 and NAID AAA into its certification directory, as well as moved the directory online. If your firm recently completed these certifications, a CHWMEG audit or an ISO 9001, ISO 14001, R2, RIOS or e-Stewards certification, e-mail dleif@resource-recycling.com to be included in this section and in E-Scrap News' directory. The full directory is available at www.tinyurl.com/Certified-E-scrap.

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NewsBits

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:56
NewsBits

April 18, 2014

Researchers in Finland have zeroed in on fungi as key for extracting gold from e-scrap. After crushing devices, researchers apply a "mycelium-based" biomass to naturally absorb and attract up to 80 percent of available gold — far better than current chemical-based processes, which typically recover 10 to 20 percent of gold.

Google's big idea for the cellphone of the future — a device with readily interchangeable and upgradable parts – got off to a bit of a hiccup this week when a prototype phone ended up with a crack in its screen. A representative told attendees at the Project Ara Developer's Conference replaceable screens were back in Germany, but the phone is on track for a 2015 release and could drive significant reuse through its easily replaceable parts.

Personal computer shipments during the first quarter of 2014 were down 4.4 percent year-over-year, slightly better than a projected fall of 5.3 percent. The International Data Corporation says replacements for the recently phased-out Windows XP operating system helped give "a passing boost" to shipments.

In an opinon piece published on Wired's site, iFixit founder Kyle Wiens explains why e-scrap "dumping grounds" in Agbogbloshie, Ghana are in many ways fertile lands for innovation and training. Counteracting the traditional view of the largely unregulated e-scrap ending spot, Wiens suggests there is a highly developed assembly line system at play, reliant on skilled workers primed for more technical training and support.

While overall landfilling of material has been going down in the Vancouver, British Columbia area, waste authorities say e-scrap volumes still haven't let up. According to a new report released by Metro Vancouver, a regional authority and district, e-scrap accounted for 35 percent of inspection violations in 2013, up from 20 percent in 2010.

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Hillary Clinton touts recycling, ducks shoe, at ISRI Convention

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:16
Hillary Clinton touts recycling, ducks shoe, at ISRI Convention

By Dylan de Thomas, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

At the closing general session of the 2014 ISRI Convention & Exposition, presumptive presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke to over 1,000 attendees about recycling and how the industry fits into the larger U.S. and global economy, but not without some controversy.

Just as Clinton began speaking, a member of the audience threw a strapped shoe and some papers at the former Secretary of State. Clinton responded with humor, saying, "My goodness, I didn’t know that solid waste management was so controversial. Thank goodness she didn’t play softball like I did."

ISRI's director of media relations and online communications, Mark Carpenter, told the Las Vegas Sun that the shoe-thrower was not a convention attendee and a Resource Recycling staffer at the event confirmed the woman was not wearing a badge.

Clinton spoke for 30 minutes, praising the recycling industry for "driving innovation and resource efficiency," noting that recycling "offers a chance to improve the environment and stimulate the economy at the same time.” The former senator then highlighted various projects the Clinton Foundation has launched relating to "sustainable waste management," including a Haitian recycling plant.

"We can be the clean energy superpower for the 21st century as American innovation unlocks new supplies, pioneers new technologies and gives us new tools to lower carbon emissions," Clinton said.

After Clinton's speech and shoe-dodging, she sat down with outgoing ISRI chair Jerry Simms, who offered a "deepest apology for that crude interruption."

During the discussion with Clinton, Simms noted the recycling trade group's strong stance in favor of exports without restrictions and history of "preventing protectionist trade policies of other nations."

Clinton expressed support of such policies. "We have to be stronger about going after countries in the WTO, like China, now like Russia, like any others who try to put those barriers up," Clinton said. "We have to be tougher in bringing trade action against them. We have to threaten reciprocity, because they love to get into our market while they block their markets."

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Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:15
Apply now to grab funding for your recycling innovation

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

There are only a few weeks left to submit your game-changing ideas to the Recycling Innovators Forum. And competing in the event couldn't be easier — simply submit a three-to-four page proposal by April 30.

If you have a creative solution that will help move the recycling industry forward, don't miss out on this chance to take your innovation to the next level. The Recycling Innovators Forum is a venue for individuals and groups to present their bright ideas. Co-located with the annual Resource Recycling Conference, the Forum is designed to shine a spotlight on new recycling concepts and connect inventors to the companies, institutions and organizations that can help turn ideas into reality.

A $20,000 prize will be awarded to each of the two top-ranking innovations, and finalists will have the invaluable opportunity to market their ideas to industry leaders. Whether you're a small-scale "garage innovator" in the beginning stages of development or work in a team at an established industry organization, this is a prime opportunity to gain exposure and funds to make a real impact in recycling.

Head to the Recycling Innovators Forum website to get complete details.

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R2 Solutions says its standard follows Basel Convention

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:14
R2 Solutions says its standard follows Basel Convention

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

R2 Solutions recently argued its certification is "fully consistent" with international trade agreements, a claim that has drawn the ire of the Basel Action Network (BAN).

R2 Solutions' FAQ document, released April 5, asserts the R2:2013 certification holds verified firms to all applicable international trade laws, including the Basel Convention. "The export requirements of the Standard are fully consistent with international hazardous waste trade laws," the document reads.

Combating the perception that the R2 standard lacks sufficient export standards, R2 Solutions says its list of hazardous "Focus Materials," which include polychlorinated biphenyls and CRT glass, "largely tracks" a list of "hazardous or of concern" e-scrap components identified in a 1998 amendment to the Convention. Moreover, the certification body cites language appearing in its recently revised standard that includes a broad mandate that certified recycling facilities must "comply with all applicable environmental, health and safety … legal requirements."

BAN, which has vigorously pushed its e-Stewards certification as the more export-conscious of the certifications, issued a response to R2's document. The organization's press release states the R2 standard "was created in the U.S. for those U.S. stakeholders who are in disagreement with the Basel Convention."

BAN's statement also argues R2 "fails to control the list of hazardous materials prescribed by Basel," a view point echoed in its "Five Fundamental Flaws: A Concise Critique of the R2:2013," released in 2013.

The certificantion comparison debate has long been a divisive one within the industry, with e-scrap export policy proving to be a constant focal point.

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Microsoft encourages recycling as it phases out XP

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:14
Microsoft encourages recycling as it phases out XP

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

April 11, 2014

Microsoft is leading a charge to encourage proper data sanitization and recycling of old computers.

Ending technical support for Microsoft XP and Office 2003 this week, the software comany expects users to begin migrating to newer technology, such as Windows 8.1 and Office 365. If that shift does occur as planned, "there will be a growing need to help safely and securely dispose of older devices," Microsoft says.

To help, Microsoft wants customers to seek out authorized refurbishers and recycling partners to ensure sensitive data is properly erased and gadgets get recycled. The company specifically mentions finding R2, e-Stewards and WEEELABEX-certified recycling firms "to make sure you're working with someone that will recycle old technology in a safe and environmentally responsible way."

Microsoft had offered technical support to Microsoft XP and Office 2003 users for 12 years. Last year's launch of Microsoft 8.1 was unable to offer any significant reprieve from slumping PC shipments in 2013.

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Certification scorecard

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:13
Certification scorecard

April 11, 2014

With the roster of companies attaining third-party certifications or audits continuing to grow, E-Scrap News has compiled a round-up of the firms announcing certification this past week.

InterConnection, of Seattle, renewed its ISO 14001 certification and is also now certified to OHSAS 18001 and R2:2013. InterConnection is the first U.S. nonprofit organization to achieve the updated R2 standard.

AMS Store and Shred LLC of Lake in the Hills, Illinois; Best Shredding (Div/Best Service Pros) of Langley, British Columbia; Certified Document Destruction of Wauseon, Ohio; Goodwill Easter Seals Of The Gulf Coast, Inc. of Mobile, Alabama; Maverick Shredding of Weslaco, Texas; Metro Record Storage and Shredding of Bakersfield, California; Royal Document Destruction, Inc. of Gahanna, Ohio; Shred Works, Inc. of Oakland, California; and The DocuTeam LLC of San Luis Obispo, California have either achieved or renewed their NAID Certifications for Physical Destruction of Hard Drives.

Announcement: E-Scrap News has added OHSAS 18001 and NAID AAA into its certification directory, as well as moved the directory online. If your firm recently completed these certifications, a CHWMEG audit or an ISO 9001, ISO 14001, R2, RIOS or e-Stewards certification, e-mail dleif@resource-recycling.com to be included in this section and in E-Scrap News' directory. The full directory is available at www.tinyurl.com/Certified-E-scrap.

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NewsBits from E-Scrap News

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:12
NewsBits

April 11, 2014

Recycling firm AnythingIT, Inc. has decided to start another company, and it's one that has little to do with e-scrap. Attempting to capitalize on the growing legal marketplace for marijuana, AnythingIT's Weedhire.com will feature an extensive listing of job openings within the regulated, $1.5 billion per year marijuana industry.

Former environmental regulator and Best Buy executive Leo Raudys has started a web-based e-scrap consulting firm known as Riduvit. The company website connects corporate e-scrap generators with national recycling firms and provides quotes for recycling services.

The electronics repair gurus at iFixit have given the Samsung Gear 2 watch a repairability score of 8 out of 10. Aside from a tricky-to-dissect fused display – making repair "a little difficult and costly" – iFixit says the high-tech watch is generally primed for repair and reuse.

Research group International Data Corporation (IDC) has found that wearable electronic devices are beginning to become more popular. In 2014 alone, "wearables" shipments are expected to triple, exceeding 19 million units.

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Vermont e-scrap regulators issue RFP

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:41
Vermont e-scrap regulators issue RFP

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

The state of Vermont is preparing to consider bids for a new two-year contract for the management of its embroiled e-scrap program.

Waste management and recycling firms have been asked to pitch their proposals to the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) for "collection, transportation and recycling of electronic waste collected under the state e-waste program." The contract will run from Oct. 1, 2014 through September 30, 2016.

ANR's Cathy Jamieson told E-Scrap News the agency is "very satisfied" with the performance of its current contractor, publicly traded Casella Waste Systems, and she said the request for proposal had been planned in advance.

Jamieson, however, did acknowledge the agency has received a number of comments concerning the state's prior handling of the bidding process. After ANR awarded its e-scrap contract to Casella last year, the entities that previously handled the state's program, Northeast Resource Recovery Association (NRRA) and subcontractor Good Point Recycling, cried foul and a number of media outlets reported on the controversey.

NRRA and Good Point were later approved to administer an independent plan on behalf of equipment manufacturers who wanted to opt out of the Casella-run state plan.

This time around any contractor chosen to run the state program, which has helped drive the nation's highest per capita collection rates, will need to be either R2 or e-Stewards certified, Jamieson said. Subcontractors will also need to be certified to at least one of the standards.

The certification issue has recently been wrapped into questions surrounding a key Casella subcontractor, Kuusakoski Recycling, which has been working with the company to take Vermont's CRT glass and process it as alternative daily cover (ADC). The process has become a point of contention for many within the industry who argue ADC is not a permissible form of recycling.

On that issue, Jamieson said the market conditions for CRT glass simply aren't robust enough to ask Casella to seek another downstream option. "Even though the state recognizes ADC is not recycling, there are very few recycling options that are actually within the U.S," Jamieson said. "Until there's a bonafide, full-scale recycling option available, it is acceptable for Casella via Kuusakoski to send CRTs to be treated and used as ADC."

At press time, Casella had yet to return a request for comment on the company's partnership with Kuusakoski.

Robin Ingenthron, Good Point's president, told E-Scrap News his firm had found ways to send CRT glass downstream when it was at the helm of the state program and asserted that there remain viable recycling options. "It's a major strategic mistake for Vermont … to abandon reuse and recycling of CRT glass," Ingenthron said.

Bids for the upcoming RFP will need to be submitted by noon on May 9.

 

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CRT cleanup underway at eco International

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:40
CRT cleanup underway at eco International

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

New details have emerged on the CRT glass stored at facilities run by former e-scrap recycling firm eco International.

John Martin, EPA Region II press officer, confirmed with E-Scrap News that eco International had stockpiled an estimated 12,000 tons of CRT glass by the time the company closed its doors in late 2013. The glass, housed at eco International facilities in Hallstead, Pennsylvania and Vestal, New York, represents the country's largest confirmed stockpiling.

The company "has verbally agreed to sort the CRT glass at their facilities and send any hazardous waste to a regulated hazardous waste disposal facility," Martin said. Asked if eco International had begun doing so, Martin told E-Scrap News, "The company indicates they have already begun sorting operations."

Lisa Kasianowitz of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection explained eco International had gone bankrupt at the time of its closure and the EPA Region II has "taken the lead" on ensuring the glass would be properly removed and processed by the firm.

The fall of the company surprised many in the industry when news first broke in October of last year. Eco International was one of the processing contractors for the OEM-backed Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company (MRM) and had been in business for more than 20 years.

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Washington and Oregon release e-scrap figures

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:40
Washington and Oregon release e-scrap collection figures

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

Washington and Oregon continue to collect more and more e-scrap thanks to statewide legislation.

Presenting nearly identical collection numbers of around 7 pounds per capita, the two states have released 2013 collection data alongside program-to-date data, highlighting continued gains in collection totals.

Washington's E-Cycles program has led to the collection of more than 200 million pounds of electronics since it began in 2009. In 2013, collection totals rose to 45 million pounds, up more than 1.5 million pounds compared with 2012. The population of Washington is around 7 million.

Of the 45 million pounds collected last year, more than 46 percent came from leaded CRT glass. Most processors reported sending leaded glass to final recovery operations in India, where Videocon runs the lone glass-to-glass operation still taking U.S. CRT glass.

Total Reclaim processed the most e-scrap through the program, responsible for more than half of all processing during the year. The Washington-based company processed 23.5 million pounds of state program e-scrap in 2013.

Following suit, Oregon, with a population of about 4 million, reported bringing in some 123.5 million pounds of e-scrap in the last five years. Last year was another record-setting year for the program, leading to the collection of 27.7 million pounds, up 1 million pounds from 2012.

According to the Oregon report, a major cause for the gains has been the expansion of collection points throughout the state, especially in rural areas. Since the program first began in 2009, the state has increased its number of collection location by 37 percent. Today there are more than 300 collection sites and recycling firms currently working with Oregon E-Cycles.

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NewsBits

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 10:38
NewsBits

PBS' "NewsHour" recently took an in-depth look at how Kenya, with help from computer maker Dell, is looking to transform itself from e-scrap dumping ground to processing hub. The report makes it clear other African nations such as Uganda are keeping a close watch on the process to see if they can replicate successes within their own borders.

A controversial reverse vending machine company that pays users for end-of-life electronics has expanded its reach in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Law enforcement agencies in some U.S. have harshly criticized the firm, ecoATM, for allegedly creating an environment that leads to more mobile-device theft.

Wired Magazine has a story explaining to general consumers the complicated set of circumstances that has led to CRT stockpiling in different corners of the country (full disclosure: Jerry Powell, executive editor of E-Scrap News, is quoted). The article urges government bodies to step in to develop solutions to the problem.

As college basketball fans descend upon Arlington, Texas for this weekend's NCAA Final Four, LG Electronics USA is hosting an e-scrap drop-off event. Arlington residents are being encouraged to "Do Game Day Right" by bringing used electronics to a collection point this Saturday.

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New Jersey e-scrap program hits major stumbling blocks

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 13:01
New Jersey e-scrap program hits major stumbling blocks

By Dan Leif, E-Scrap News

March 28, 2014

Want evidence of how difficult it is to craft effective statewide laws for the rapidly evolving e-scrap landscape? Just look to New Jersey and the collection quagmire that's unfolded there.

According to a state official and various e-scrap stakeholders in the Garden State, materials recovered under the state's e-cycling law have piled up at some collection sites in recent months, in large part because industry consolidation and the ongoing CRT dilemma have sparked major funding deficits when it comes to moving material downstream.

Some counties in the southern part of the state have even threatened to discontinue running the collection sites that are integral to the e-cycling law's goal of offering free and convenient e-scrap collection access to all residents.

"Towns and counties are facing large costs that should not be there, and [they] are facing the prospect of pulling out of the collection system," said Marie Kruzan, executive director of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers.

Quotas met, material remains

The state's e-scrap law, which was implemented in 2011 and offers free collection of computers and televisions to residents and small businesses, lays program funding responsibility at the feet of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Each year, the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sets out specific collection quotas individual OEMs must meet, but due to a variety of factors, major tonnages are remaining at municipal collection sites even after manufacturers say they've fulfilled their requirements.

The program's issues are in many ways exemplified by the straits that have confronted Magnum Computer Recycling, a de-manufacturing firm based in Pennsauken New Jersey. During the initial years of the e-cycling program, Magnum covered six counties in the southern part of the state, handling and transporting scrap collected in that region.

Magnum's owner, John Martorano, Jr., told E-Scrap News that during 2011 and 2012 the company had deals in place with MRM, an alliance of OEMs, and other corporate groups that worked to wrangle pounds on behalf of product manufacturers, and Magnum was paid 6 cents per pound for TVs and other covered material it collected and 15 cents per pound for the material it actually de-manufactured. Those sums were enough for Martorano to profitably and efficiently maintain his link in the program.

In the middle of last year, however, the OEM alliances Magnum was relying on said they could no longer pay him for pounds. According to Martorano, one of those contractors assured him more weight would be needed soon, and Martorano kept servicing his county clients, paying from his own pocket. When the contractor finally came back to him in January of this year, it offered Martorano just a penny per pound. With 600,000 pounds of TVs, monitors and other material amassed, he was forced to take the payment, even though it didn't come close to covering expenses.

Martorano, whose firm is certified to the R2 standard, says a number of other processing firms in New Jersey have run into similar dilemmas. "Recyclers are going out of business," he said. "It's like we're eating soup with a fork. We're tasting everything, but not getting full."

Guy Watson, chief of the Bureau of Recycling and Planning at New Jersey DEP, confirmed many of the specifics of the Magnum case.

"Magnum got in a bind," Watson said. "My understanding is that the company has been able to again start moving the material from the collection sites, but it's had to charge counties around 4.5 to 6 cents a pound." It's those charges that have begun forcing countries to consider nixing their collection efforts.

A beguiling market

So what's behind the economic shift that led to the funding upheaval? Watson points first to the increasingly beguiling CRT glass market. Over the last year, the well-documented shortage of options for final processing of leaded glass in North America began to have serious ripple effects on the profitability of New Jersey collection firms.

"The subsidy needed by recyclers from the manufacturers for the CRTs went up," said Watson, "because the cost went up to market it."

But the trend in OEM financing has been moving in the opposite direction. Kruzan of ANJR says with OEMs needing to collect weight in the more than 20 e-scrap law states, they are turning to national e-scrap firms that then subcontract out work on a state-by-state basis. Brokers have entered the picture, and competition has grown fierce, meaning OEMs are able to get their weight covered at a very low per-ton price.

Furthermore, Kruzan said the increased number of brokers and national firms working in the state makes it hard to keep track of whether manufacturers are actually collecting their proper weight allotments.

"We can't demand numbers from someone in Philadelphia or Timbuktu," she said. "There's no way to audit that. That is the fallacy of the law."

OEMs, however, say the problems in the legislation run deeper than just accounting specifics. Doug Smith, corporate director of environment, safety and health at Sony, said that in New Jersey and many other states, e-scrap mandates are passed without comprehensive economic analysis. As a result, shifts in the e-scrap marketplace inevitably lead to underfunded operations even when the OEMs pay for their required tons for TVs and other devices.

"I have to use contractors that use subcontractors," he said. "It's a reality when dealing with so many state laws. But these are compliance laws and we take them very seriously. The counties are faced with hiccups and that has a trickle effect that goes up to us. We take the blame, but all we're really doing is complying."

Program updates

Watson said DEP has made adjustments to the New Jersey system for the 2014 calendar year, increasing the state's per capita recovery target by 13 percent and boosting the forecast of CRT material that is expected to head into the system. He also said the department is now requiring OEMs to provide estimates of what they expect to garner from individual collection sites so that regulators can make sure firms working in different areas have the financial coverage they need.

But the recycling official also admitted creating a foolproof system that will satisfy all requirements of all stakeholders -- and the public -- is a daunting task.

"There is this tension in the [law]," he said. "On the one hand, all consumers as defined in the act must have the ability to access a free and convenient system. That means without limitation. On the other hand, the law says we have to give each one of the manufacturers an obligation in pounds, which is a finite number. "

Martorano of Magnum and Kruzan of ANJR said New Jersey recycling stakeholders have begun a push to alter specifics of the law so that the companies responsible for collecting and processing the material are guaranteed the compensation they need.

"The program fell apart," said Martorano. "And without the legislation changing, it's only going to get worse."

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Save the date for E-Scrap 2014

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 13:00
Save the date for E-Scrap 2014

By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News

March 28, 2014

The nation's largest gathering of e-scrap professionals is set for October in Orlando, Florida.

E-Scrap 2014 will be held October 22-23 at Orlando's Rosen Shingle Creek. The 2013 edition saw more than 1,300 attendees and 125 exhibiting companies, so plan now for E-Scrap 2014 where you'll encounter business-boosting education sessions and extensive networking opportunities found nowhere else.

Attendee, sponsorship and exhibitor information will be coming your way this spring. Look for the latest at e-scrapconference.com, and get ready to boost your business by heading to Orlando.

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Certification groups clarify stances on CRT management

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 12:57
Certification groups clarify stances on CRT management

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

March 28, 2014

Industry certification bodies R2 Solutions and Basel Action Network (BAN) released formal clarifications this week on the way certified firms may handle CRT glass.

Issuing a formal rule clarification on March 26, R2 announced board members unanimously moved to ban the use of CRT glass as alternative daily cover (ADC) under the new iteration of the certification. R2 executive director John Lingelbach confirmed there are now no instances in which an R2-certified facility can use CRTs as ADC.

"There are viable downstream options for the subset of CRT glass that top-performing, R2-certified recyclers are processing," Lingelbach said.

BAN, which administers the e-Stewards certification, issued its own rule clarification today.

Emphasizing the challenges smaller recyclers face in paying for the proper downstream processing of CRT glass, BAN reaffirmed its stance that CRT-to-ADC actions do not constitute recycling but can be "used as a last resort" for disposal by its members.

"We believe that at this juncture where the market is already dangerously constricted, any further prohibitions should only be considered if they are based on sound science and a life-cycle approach examining all significant environmental and social impacts," the release reads. It also states that the group is engaged in "a science-based review of global CRT management practices" and will be reviewing the definition of "as a last resort" as used in the e-Stewards certification language.

The downstream processor likely to be most affected by R2's ban on the practice of using CRTs as ADC is Kuusakoski U.S. Through a partnership with Peoria Disposal Company (PDC), Kuusakoski runs a CRT-to-ADC operation in Peoria, Illinois and has hopes to process up to 50,000 tons of glass every year for the next decade.

Kuusakoski's Philadelphia facility is both R2 and e-Stewards certified. However, the company's Peoria, Illinois facility, which is actively involved in the ADC operation, is not certified to either standard.

Lingelbach told E-Scrap News R2 Solutions and Kuusakoski held a conference call on Thursday, but he said the certification status of Kuusakoski's Philadelphia facility was not discussed. Kuusakoski's Anssi Takala clarified with E-Scrap News its Philadelphia facility can operate as a transfer hub for CRTs bound for Illinois but "our target is that customers with CRT glass or intact CRT devices ship it directly Peoria."

In addition, Takala told E-Scrap News the recycling firm and PDC "respectfully disagree" with the R2 clarification. "We have shared our concerns with R2 concerning its press release, and have challenged them to provide more information to the public that supports its decision on the viability question," Takala said. "Furthermore, we have agreed to furnish additional information to R2 on this matter."

According to a Kuusakoski white paper released last fall, aside from Kuusakoski, there are only three North American final recovery options for U.S. glass in North America. The paper also states annual glass supply far oustrips the industry's ability to handle the challenging material.

The paper advances the key argument that high levels of lead found in the funnel glass portion of CRTs are essentially locked within the glass by the technology employed by Kuusakoski and PDC, ensuring that it will not leach once used as ADC at landfills.

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U.K. export laws too lax on CRTs?

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 12:56
U.K. export laws too lax on CRTs?

By Bobby Elliott, E-Scrap News

March 28, 2014

Leaded glass recycling firms in the U.K. say export rules are hindering domestic CRT recycling efforts.

A contingent of U.K. companies, headlined by SWEEEP Kuusakoski and Environcom, argue CRT glass exported to the Netherlands for processing and then used in interlocking concrete blocks by A. Jansen B.V. are held to environmental treatment standards that are lower than those in the U.K.

Simon Greer, whose company, NuLife Glass, built the glass furnace currently utilized by SWEEEP Kuusakoski in Kent, England, told E-Scrap News the CRT funnel glass used in A. Jansen B.V.'s Legioblocks "still has its lead content." Once manufactured, the blocks head back to the U.K. for use in temporary and permanent building projects, remaining, according to Greer, "a future hazardous waste"

SWEEEP Kuusakoski managing director Patrick Watts called the process "a cheap way out," adding, "CRT recycling firms all compete. If there is a cheap loophole they can use, they will." Of particular concern is a "Trans Frontier Shipment" approval granted to the Dutch company by the U.K.'s Environment Agency (EA). SWEEEP Kuusakoski and others, including Environcom, would like to see EA revoke its approval and look into whether A. Jansen B.V.'s Legioblocks contain lead levels exceeding regulatory limits. Several parliamentary members have seconded the call for a further review of the issue.

An EA spokesperson told MRW: "The facility accepting the waste is regulated by the competent authority. We accept the view of the Dutch authority that it is a properly regulated recycling facility."

A. Jansen B.V.'s Marianne Kleingeld told E-Scrap News the company's Legioblocks are processed "in accordance with Dutch legislation and WEEELABEX." Kleingeld also said the company was working on a "unisonous statement" to address the recent spate of criticism.

While EU member nations all adopt a basic set of CRT management rules, it is the job of each nation to interpret and implement those guidelines. The U.K. is known to have some of the most stringent CRT management rules in place among its EU partners.

Each year more than 140,000 tons of CRT and flat panel displays enter the U.K. waste stream. About 85 percent are CRT devices, said Watts of SWEEEP Kuusakoski.

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