The 2019 E-Scrap Conference and Trade Show is less than two weeks away, and we’re giving you one last interview with an industry leader set to take to the stage in Orlando.
Kevin Dillon is chief operating officer and chief sales officer at nationwide processor ERI. He will be moderating the conference’s opening plenary session, which brings together sustainability executives at several electronics manufacturers to discuss their strategies on state e-scrap laws, processor relationships, design for recycling and more.
As someone who has worked directly with OEMs for years now, why do you think it’s important to have them gather together for a panel like this?
OEM programs represent a very large portion of the electronics recycling business. EPA SMM Challenge winners alone were responsible for over 500 million pounds recycled last year. These programs have massive impacts on our industry. In today’s climate, there’s now a shared responsibility among multiple stakeholders. All these stakeholders need to be brought together for mutually beneficial solutions and perspectives. Because OEMs (IT, TV and others) have different perspectives and internal initiatives, it’s important to collaborate together.
It’s also worth mentioning that these companies on our panel (Dell, Samsung, Sony and TCL) are great, forward-thinking organizations that care about innovation and environmental responsibility, so hearing their perspectives on the ever-changing e-scrap landscape in terms of best practices, new programs, regulatory issues, data management and more should be educational and a fascinating conversation.
Since the first OEM-funded state programs were signed into law more than 15 years ago now, how has the e-scrap industry evolved?
It’s largely evolved because the majority of OEMs now require an R2 or e-Stewards certification from their e-scrap partners. This has forced the industry to become more certified. In fact, standards have improved across the board. The electronics recycling industry has moved from a scrap industry into a professional-services industry. OEM programs have helped maintain a focus on certification, and on recycler vetting. When so much of the volume is managed under the eyes of responsible OEMs, it is harder for fly-by-night or sham recyclers to survive.
“When so much of the volume is managed under the eyes of responsible OEMs, it is harder for fly-by-night or sham recyclers to survive.”
What common ground do processing firms and OEMs share when it comes to the management of electronics?
One of the largest common goals that ERI has with OEMs is the goal of efficiency. Inefficient collection programs are in nobody’s best interest as they increase costs, hurt the environment and potentially reduce volumes collected. Efficient collection ensures material is properly sorted, packaged and prepared for safe transportation in the highest volumes necessary, reducing the need for additional trucks on the road, hazards associated with broken items and additional labor costs associated with handling the material multiple times.
In addition, because OEMs’ names and reputations are connected to their recycling programs, we also share a common goal of ensuring responsible recycling and secure downstreams. First, the joint goal was to ensure transparent domestic processing, then it moved to ensuring CRT processing abilities, and now it has begun to move toward closed loop plastics processing – all of which are important.
How can recycling and ITAD firms better serve their OEM partners?
By becoming more vertically integrated. OEMs want to work with a recycling firm and ITAD firm that can add accretive value throughout multiple divisions within an organization – from purchasing, refurbishment, asset management, sustainability, environmental impact and more.
How can OEMs be more in tune with the needs of the ITAD and recycling sector?
More and more OEMs understand that a compliance program has to go beyond the lowest bidder. The recycler you choose will impact your standing with regulators and government collectors. Recycling costs money and it’s often in the best interest of an OEM to choose a recycler based on the quality and efficiency of the services provided, as opposed to solely based on cost.
Kevin Dillon will be moderating the Tech Giants at the Table panel, set for 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 24. Other speakers in the session include Erika Chan of Dell, Mark Newton of Samsung, Doug Smith of Sony and Jonathan King of TCL.
Head to e-scrapconference.com for more details and to register today.