There’s more than one way to collar an e-cycling outlaw but none are surefire

Nov 01, 2009 | 04:12 AM |

Recycling electronic discards can be daunting, involving both hazardous substances and materials theoretically recyclable but not really marketable. Such hurdles can lead to shortcuts that are sleazy or downright illegal.

One way to get norms taken seriously is a sort of "neighborhood watch" approach responsible corporate citizens keeping an eye out for abuses. Until now, only a few companies with serious clout were willing to play that role. One is computer maker Dell Corp., Round Rock, Texas, with its elaborate worldwide auditing of recyclers and refurbishers to which it sends discarded equipment from customers. Dell's aim is to avoid complicity in pollution, unsafe workplaces or internationally dumped waste.

The desire to wield such oversight is now working its way down to somewhat smaller players.

One potential tool for flagging undesirable electronic recycling situations at a vendor company is a type of input-output analysis labeled "mass balance accounting."

"The only way to be sure that everything is recycled and not exported or landfilled is by mass balance accounting and reconciliation," said Robert Houghton, president of Redemtech Inc., Columbus, Ohio, a recycling company with branches in Virginia and Nevada. "At the simplest level, record the amount of weight you send to your recycler. Compare against your recycler's report of weight received. Require disposition records from your recycler for raw materials approximately equal in weight to the total."....





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