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Recently H.R. 2284, The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2011 was reintroduced  by Rep. Gene Green (TX-29) and Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-01) to prohibit the exportation of some electronics whose improper disposal may create environmental, health, or national security risks.

At CompuCycle, we support the continued growth of e-waste legislation. It is our sincerest hope that in the near future every recycler will have to responsibly recycle every piece of equipment, that no electronics will be allowed in a landfill and every person will understand the impact of irresponsible recycling on our planet and future generations.

To learn more about The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2011, visit the links below.

ISRI Works to Ensure Safe and Responsible Electronics Recycling

Reps. Green and Thompson Introduce Electronic Waste Recycling Bill

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Recently Gov. Rick Perry signed the TV TakeBack Recycling bill into law.  The new Texas law requires television manufacturers to take back and recycle old sets in an effort to keep toxic materials including lead and mercury out of landfills and water.

An estimated 25 million TVs are disposed of each year in the U.S., according to the Stacy Guidry, program director for the Texas Campaign for the Environment, an Austin-based statewide organization focused on recycling and trash issues. Old-style cathode ray tube TVs contain several pounds of lead, while most new flat-screen TVs contain mercury bulbs, she said.

Here at CompuCycle we are elated to finally have laws that enforces the ideology we have maintained all along, that electronics do not belong in landfills, especially TVs.  We look forward to seeing legislation to come that requires responsible recycling of all electronics.

To read more about What Texas’ new television recycling law means for consumers, click here

Volunteers at e-cycling drive

Volunteers from 2011 KTRK ABC13 Houston Earth Day E-cycling Drive unload the last car.

Now that I’ve made it through my first Earth Day (more like month) while employed by CompuCycle, I think I’m ready to tackle tips on how to host a successful e-cycling drive. There’s no exact science and your results will always vary based on several factors. None the less, my first tip is what seems like the most obvious, but is often the tip least followed.

 

Contract with a Certified Electronics Recycler

Before you decide you want to provide a service to your employees, tenants, community or whoever you want to help recycle their electronics, make sure you have a safe and eco-friendly outlet to do so.  Many “recycling” companies will offer free recycling, but make sure you do your homework on the company before you hand over your hard drives and e-waste.

As I mentioned in the last blog, unless you are using a Certified Electronics Recycler (R2 or E-steward Certified) there is no guarantee that your electronics are being disposed of properly and sensitive information is safe. 

 

Find a venue that is suitable

If you plan on doing a one-day e-cycling drive, choose an outdoor area where recyclers can easily pull-up and unload. Typically recyclers are asked to not get out of the car and workers or volunteers will unload the vehicle for them, allowing for fast and easy drop off.  Shade is always also a plus for workers and volunteers to escape the sun.

If you plan on doing a multiple day e-cycling drive, choose a centrally located area that is big enough for at least 1 gaylord box for collection of electronics.  CompuCycle would drop off the box(s) prior to the event and would pick them up at the host’s instruction.

 

Know the extent of your resources

Determine beforehand how much labor the recycling company will provide and how many volunteers you will have. The more organized your event is, the more successful your event will be. You want your recyclers to want to bring their electronics next year and spread the word to friends and family.  Word of mouth should be one of your top referrals. 

 

Anchor your event with other events or times when recycling interest at its highest

Obviously in April, around Earth Day, is when recycling is at the top of everyone’s agenda. The Earth Day buzz is  a great way to help create awareness of your e-cycling drive.  Other times to anchor your event to are: America Recycles Day (Nov. 20th), right after New Years (Give us all the electronics you just replaced at Christmas!), Spring Cleaning (Clean the old electronics out of your closet!)

 

Set a time that is convenient for your audience

It’s always important to keep in mind your audience.  If it’s your employees or tenants, a weekday recycling drive would probably be the most successful option. Really, who wants to drop by work on a Saturday? If it’s members of your community, a Saturday collection is most convenient for those that have 9-5 jobs. 

 

Consider extending your drive

Instead of a one-day drive, consider offering a week-long collection event in a central area, if you have one available. This is will allow recyclers a chance to bring more electronics and will allow more to participate. 

 

Be clear as to what items are accepted and how many items can be brought

The last thing you want to encounter on your drive day is frustrated recyclers.  Who wouldn’t be frustrated after you loaded up your 60″ Monster Big Screen TV only to find out the drive you are dropping off at does not accept TVs over 36″. 

Make sure to mention in all media if there is a limit on the number of items and the items that are not acceptable, such as appliances (microwaves, refrigerators and so on).  

 

Advertise

The most important step is to of course make sure your audience knows the event is happening! How do you let them know, you say? There are many avenues to reach your audience in this day and time. Some effective outlets are: Flyers, Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.), Newsletters (digital and print), Emails (Your own, that’s right, send some emails!), Newspapers, Blogs and Word of Mouth (Tell some people!).   

It seems that I read an article every week about some e-waste drive or a new charity that accepts electronics.  Which is great!…..But in retrospect, I can’t help but wonder what really happens to those electronics.

The truth of the matter is I do know what happens to those electronics because I work for a certified electronics recycler, CompuCycle.  Do those donating or recycling know what is happening to their old electronics? Most of them, do not. 

I have no doubt the people hosting e-waste drives and charities accepting electronics have the best intentions. However, unscrupulous “recyclers” often pray on the good intentions of the public. It all boils down to a lack of education about the importance of using certified electronics recyclers.

One staggering statistic released by watchdog, The Basel Action Network, states that up 80% of electronics recyclers are not actually recycling the equipment, but are exporting to developing countries where the electronics are banged with rocks, burned with acid or set on fire, often by children.  

If you are ready to part with old, outdated or surplus electronics, these are the questions you should ask before you hand over your electronics, whether it’s a charity (intended for reuse) or an e-waste drive (intended for recycling): 

Questions for a charity:

1. How does the charity erase the data?

It is important to know that simply deleting the data from the hard drive or formatting the hard drive does not erase the data. Both processes really just remove the information the hard drive needs to find the data, not the data itself. Deleted files can be undeleted and formatted hard drives can be recovered.

To be sure that data is removed beyond all practical ability to recover it, a wiping or erasing utility should be used. These tools overwrite every sector of the hard drive with binary 1’s and 0’s. Those that meet Department of Defense security standards even overwrite each sector multiple times for added protection.

2. What happens to equipment that charities can not reuse?

Donations of unusable equipment often burden charities with the task of getting rid of what can not be fixed or reused.  Many small charities often have no means of properly disposing of the material. It is important to only give working equipment (usually that 5 years old or newer and has the operating system already installed) so that the charity can productively use the equipment.

If the charity does not have a clear plan of action, equipment that cannot be used may ultimately end up in a dumpster destined for a landfill.

At CompuCycle, we have a Charitable Donation program where we can clean, fix and install the operating system for you to donate to your chosen charity.

 

Questions to ask at a E-waste or E-cycling Drive:

1. Is the company handling the electronics a certified electronics recycler? (either R2 or E-steward Certified)

If the company handling the electronics is not a certified electronics recycler, then there is no guarantee that the electronics are being recycled properly.  Certificates of  recycling and pledges mean nothing if there is no Third-Party Certification.

There are only two certifications that guarantee responsible recycling in the United States: R2 (Responsible Recycling) Certification, which is accredited  by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and The Basel Action Network’s E-Steward Certification.

Many companies may claim certification by saying that they are “EPA Approved,” have “EPA Approved Facility” or have a “EPA Permit”.  The EPA does not “approve” anyone.  The EPA will issue a Hazardous Waste Permit to track the transportation of  hazardous waste. This does not apply to electronics as they are not classified as hazardous waste. The permit requires no third party audit or site visit of any kind.

It also important to know that “E-steward Pledged” is different from being certified.  The pledge, while it indicates intentions of responsible recycling, does not indicate that the company has been audited by a third-party and thus certified.

All certified companies are listed on organization websites.

R2 Certified Recyclers

www.r2solutions.org

E-Steward Certified Recyclers

www.ban.org

2. How does the company  ensure data destruction?

If the company reuses the hard drive, it is important that they use Department of Defense Compliant Erasure Software  (DoD 5220.22-M).  At CompuCycle, we use Blancco software.

If the company is simply recycling the hard drives, the drives should be shredded using an industrial strength shredder intend for this purpose.

Some companies may use a drill press to destroy the drives, experts however maintain that data may still be extracted if the drive is not totally crushed as it would be in a shredder.

When you use a Certified Electronics Recycler, you can be assured that your electronics are being responsibly recycled and that your information is completely destroyed.  Here at CompuCycle, we pride our self on being the first electronics recycler in Houston to obtain certification.  Whether you are looking to recycle your outdated equipment or donate surplus equipment, CompuCycle has the knowledge and tools to ensure you are completely satisfied. 

Residents may drop of their e-waste at CompuCycle Monday – Friday at no charge.  A nominal fee is charged for TVs only.

First, let me introduce myself. My name is Julianna Watkins and I am the current Marketing Manager for CompuCycle. If you notice the date of the last blog post (December 11, 2009),  you know that CompuCycle has been long out of the blogosphere. Today, I found out that CompuCycle had a blog. I have been with CompuCycle since August of 2010.  So here we go.

Here’s what has a happened since December 2009 in 1.5 mins (hopefully) (and minus personnel changes)

– September 2010, CompuCycle Logo Change

Old CompuCycle Logo

Out with the old and in with the new

New CompuCycle Logo

New Logo, What do you think??

–  Saturday, November 12, 2010 – Galveston County Hazardous Household Waste Collection
Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque
View photos in Flickr

– February 28, 2011 – CompuCycle Is First Houston Firm To Achieve EPA “R2” Responsible Electronics Recycler
Read the Release  

– Monday, 07 Mar 2011 -CompuCycle featured on FOX 26
Learn More

– Friday, April 15, 2011 – 156,888 lbs. of E-waste Recycled from ABC13’s Earth Day Houston 2011 E-cyling Drive
View Photos in Flickr

There has been a lot of change at CompuCycle, I hope that was quick  and enough of a transition to the new era of the CompuCycle Blog.  So stay tuned!

The Basel Action Network is the foremost activist group battling the unfair trade of e-waste across the globe.

In 1989, the BAN Treaty was formed in Basel, Switzerland, in order to legislate against the export of electronics from developed countries to non-OECD nations.

Where does your country fall in signing and ratifying the treaty? Click here to find out. (Hint: The US has yet to ratify!)

Snow Day at CompuCycle

Our VP of Operations enjoying the rare snow in Houston

CompuCycle's Zoe Russell, Denia Mejia, Alicia Martinez, and Monnie Lo laughing in the snow in front of CompuCycle

CompuCycle's workers taking our lunch break pictures in the snow