Archive for July, 2013

CEA: Electronic recycling rate for electronics increased by 27 % in 2012

Over at Recycling Today, there’s a recent article highlighting a recent report on eCycling produced by The Consumer Electronics Association, (CEA) in Arlington, VA. You can check out the Second Annual Reportof the eCycling Leadership Initiative with the link.

Highlights of the report include:

  • 585 million pounds of electronics were recycled in 2012 by CEA companies working in the eCycling Leadership Initiative – an industry effort spearheaded by CEA designed to increase collaboration among consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, nongovernmental organizations and governments at all levels. That is a 27 percent increase compared with 2011 (460  million pounds) and a total increase of 95 percent since 2010 (300 million pounds).
  • As of April 2013, there are more than 8,000 recycling locations nationwide.
  • By the end of 2012, 99 percent of the recycling handled by eCycling Leadership Initiative participants was conducted in third-party certified recycling facilities.


For the full article including a few interesting quotes, check out the article here at Recyling Today.


07 2013

Mapping emerging recycling trends in the news

Over at the blog at Green Heron, there’s an interesting article highlighting a few emerging trends in recycling, complete with links to recent news stories. Firstly, the development of accreditation standards in the recycling electronics:

With the development and acceptance of accreditation standards like R2 and e-Stewards many electronics recyclers are being chosen on the basis of these achievements. As reported in this July 2013 Recycling Today lead story, a variety of factors such as increased enforcement of Chinese scrap metal import specifications and domestic green initiatives have created a very favorable market for plastics and electronics recycling.

The blog also links to the most recent U.S. EPA report (June 2013),  Municipal Solid Waste in the United States: 2011 Facts and Figures, which shows that the United States is generating more electronics waste but is also recycling more of it.

You can check out the full article here, but here are a few of the links to many of the reports and articles contained in the post.

–  Energy and Environment Legislation Tracking database Choose “All States” and “Recycling-Electronic Waste”.
– “Used Electronic Products: An Examination of U.S. Exports, found that only about 20% of exported electronics waste was winding up in foreign landfills.
Top 20 Electronics Recyclers (as compiled by Recycling Today) based on figures from June 2010.



07 2013

E-Waste Academy and the ‘Age of Urban Mining’

If you’re into electronics recycling and where the industry might be going in the next few years, there’s an incredibly interesting OpEd on the subject over at Forbes by Trevor Butterworth. Aside from some great insights, Butterworth offers up a few jarring factoids from the first E-Waste Academy, an E-Waste forum and convention recently held in Ghana.

– Electronic goods contain 40 to 50 times the amount of gold and precious metals than ores mined from the ground.

-The annual production of electronic goods worldwide required 320 tons of gold and over 7,500 tons of silver, with a combined value of $21 billion dollars. At present, just 15 percent of that is recovered.

– The use of lithium has also surged in the past decade and the lithium-ion battery market is expected to be worth $43 billion dollars in 2020.

Interestingly, Butterworth points out the E-Waste Academy initiative came to the conclusion that the free market and government needed to collaborate to make urban mining environmentally sustainable and economically profitable.

As a professor of engineering and project manager for the e-Waste Academy, Federico Magalini explained, there are four kinds of recyclers: “the fool, the criminal, the millionaire and the saint.” The fool and the criminal recycle for profit but without regard to the environmental cost; the millionaire makes money through doing the right thing; and the saint does the right thing without needing to make a profit. We want to move everyone to being in the millionaire or saint camp. “We don’t want people burning wire to get the copper,” said Magalini, and we want policy makers to come up with good funding mechanisms for unprofitable but important recycling challenges, such as refrigerators.

There’s a ton more over at Forbes, click here for the full article.



07 2013

University of South Australia explores ‘urban mining’ E-Waste harvesting method

Over at ABC Australia there’s a cool story about a possible new way to recycle E-Waste. In “Researchers worried precious metals lost in e-waste recycling” author Matt Doran talks to a few researchers about the process.

UniSA’s urban mining project plans to grind the valuable e-waste into a powder.

The concentrate could then be put into flotation plants similar to those used at the Olympic Dam outback mine in South Australia, to separate minerals. By pumping in air to form bubbles, the precious metals can then be scooped off the top.

Researcher Professor Thomas Nann said it could lead to a new niche recycling industry.

Researchers said they were spurred to investigate the issue due to Australia’s low recycling rates.

“Currently in Australia there’s no one doing 100 per cent recycling,” he said. He said scientists at the university were developing what they called ‘urban mining’.

Check out an additional video and the full article at ABC Australia.


07 2013

Examining the many moving parts of E-Waste recycling

Electronics recycling operations across the country have grown exponentially in the last decade. As the industry evolves, Robert McKechnie says in a post at the Green Oak Solutions blog,  entrepreneurs, social business owners, environmentalists, local government leaders and residents will all have different views and goals.

McKechnie looks at the issue from several different view points, first examining the amount of E-Waste exporting and it’s cost, human and monetarily.

In a post published on Bloomberg, Adam Minter cited a recent survey by the US International Trade Commission stating that the US generated around 4.5 million tonnes of e-waste in 2011. Interestingly, according the survey only 0.13 % of this was actually exported for purposes which were NOT recycling or reuse with an additional 3% sent abroad for “unknown” purposes.  Minter points out that this data is completely contrary to the figure of 80% exporting as claimed by the Basel Action Network. The real figure is probably somewhere in between. However, what is clear is that e-waste recycling sector is providing jobs with 45,000 people employed in the sector as of 2011 compared with 6,000 in 2002.

The human cost can be illustrated via landfill sites in places such as Guiyu, in southern China’s Guangdong province. According to one report the city employs over 150,000 focused on dismantling and recycling e-waste.

Mckechnie says Giuyu is reckoned to have the highest rate of cancer-causing dioxins in the world and most of the city’s rivers and waterways are completely polluted as a result of discarded waste from the recovery processes and ash from burning coal.

But, he points out, there is a “flipside in developing countries where redundant IT from the west has a new lease of life helping educate kids who would otherwise have no access to computers.”

Computer Aid International is a not-for-profit charity that is staffed by volunteers with the vision of bridging the digital divide and providing access to technology for all. Since its inception the charity has provided over 200,000 computers to schools mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The the long and short, he says, is there’s a mounting stockpile of E-Waste, loaded with valuable metals.

A 2010 report from the UN Environment Programme listed 14 metals that are used in the manufacture of high tech product that are in critical supply including cobalt, gallium, indium and magnesium. In a recent statement the UN Commission for Sustainable Development outlined that only 1% of “specialty metals” used in electronics manufacturing are currently recycled compared with 50% of common metals such as steel.

For the full article, visit the GreenOak blog here.






07 2013

The Iron Mountain data destruction settlement is a reminder…

If you advertise a service. If you charge for said service. You’d better deliver on that service.

Last week, the two biggest document shredding companies in the country agreed to pay $1.1 million to the U.S. government for not properly disposing of (shredding) sensitive documents.

Here’s a full story over at the Boston Globe, who reported the settlement was $800,000. Here are a few interesting excerpts from the PRNewswire release.

Iron Mountain Corporation (“Iron Mountain”, NYSE “IRM”) and Shred-It USA (“Shred-It”), have agreed to pay a total of $1.1 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that they defrauded the government by failing to shred sensitive documents as required by their contracts with the United States government.

The settlement follows a multi-year investigation by the United States Department of Justice triggered by a lawsuit filed by Pennsylvania resident Douglas Knisely, owner of a family-operated document-shredding business.

Additionally, according to the allegations in the Complaint, by not using the shredders mandated by the GSA to produce residue particles not exceeding 1/32 inch, Defendants were able to obtain additional revenue by re-selling the improperly shredded government documents to paper recyclers.

As required by statute, Mr. Knisely is entitled to receive a minority share of the government’s recovery for reporting Defendants’ fraudulent scheme. In addition, the False Claims Act requires a Defendant to pay the Relator’s reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs expended in the prosecution of this case.

While we don’t recycle paper, we are into data destruction and we take it very seriously at PCS of Massachusetts. We have the equipment, proper accreditation and capable people to recycle your electronics and destroy your sensitive data responsibly and effectively.




07 2013

Why Electronics Disposition is the Soft Underbelly of Data Security

Over at the Harvard Buisness Review blog, Kyle Marks writes that while most large corporations rush to keep new technology flowing through their offices, they must show equal concern of disposing of outdated technology as quickly.

Without question, most large organizations take data security seriously. Corporations will spend an estimated $68 billion worldwide this year on IT security measures including firewalls, network monitoring, encryption, and end-point protection. When an organization spends millions guarding against hackers, it is tempting to feel confident.

But the most overlooked aspect of corporate data security may be simple IT asset disposition — in part, ironically, because so many businesses now rely on expert assistance.

According to Marks, while there is a small possibility that assets can be lost or stolen in-transit with the use of outside recycling company,  more often trusted insiders can take retired assets any time before the handoff to the outsourcer, and before data is destroyed.

To combat this, Marks suggests acknowledging the risks and inherent conflicts-of-interest surrounding retired assets, action, he says, will result in more effective ITAD policies and adequate safeguards.

Applying established incident-response procedures to the process of ITAD can help raise awareness of unappreciated vulnerabilities. Educating senior management about the risks will hopefully secure IT asset managers the resources needed to prevent an ITAD-related breach.

A critical aspect of every major data security law is that organizations must minimize segregation-of-duties conflicts that create opportunities for theft and fraud. Treating IT asset disposal as a “reverse procurement” process will deter insider theft.

For the full article over at Harvard Business Review, click here. 


07 2013

10 Amazing Facts About E-Waste has published a list of 11 facts about electronic waste and recycling. The numbers are pretty amazing. Personally, I thought 10 was pretty incredible:

It takes 539 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.

You can check out the full list below:

 1. 80 to 85 percent of electronic products were discarded in landfills or incinerators, which can release certain toxins into the air.

2. E-waste represents 2 percent of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics alone causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys.

3. 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.

4. Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.

5. Only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently recycled.

6. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.

7. Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.

8. E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.

9. A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.

10. It takes 539 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor.



07 2013

Electronic Waste Facts Visualized

The fine folks over at Infographics Mania have a great visualization of E-Waste numbers in 2012. Christina Adamopoulou explains that although many computer and electronic operations are in place, more than 80 % of all electronics are discarded improperly.

Electronics have particularly short lifespan due to the rapid technological evolution that brings us even more, even better, even smarter devices. What is really worrying is the fact that hardly 18% of discarded e-waste ends up in proper recycling plants. Here are some interesting stats about the environmental burden caused from careless electronic waste disposal and the value of recycling.



07 2013

E-Waste by the numbers

Over at the Business Insider late last year, Greg Voakes wrote about the “Lesser-Known Facts About E-Waste Recycling“. Starting with mobile cell phones and moving on to computers and monitors, Voakes explained the gigantic volume of electronic waste that could be recycled.

 Yes, around 14,000,000 junked mobile phones (weighing over 65,000 tonnes) reach our nation’s landfills each year – releasing an astounding 80,000 lbs of highly toxic lead… did you know that mobile phones contain high amounts of poisonous elements and materials like chromium, mercury, and arsenic?

Most – around 85% – of computers end up in a landfill, he adds. Instead of trashing old electronics, Voakes urges readers to recycle.
Look around your home – you’re bound to have some old electronics (especially cell phones) that you no longer use. You might have put off donating or selling them off, but let’s face it – an old laptop, tablet or cell phone you haven’t used in a year is hardly likely to be of use! Recycle, and save the environment
For more information on electronics recycling, including a list of computer recycling items we accept at PCS of Massachusetts click here.



07 2013