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Recent News

  • Apple, Microsoft, Motorola wring new revenue out of e-waste
    What do Apple, Microsoft and Motorola have in common? All of these high-profile technology companies are harvesting new revenue out of discarded and end-of-life gadgets, rather than looking at them just as liabilities that require responsible recycling. What's more, all three are among the roughly 100 organizations using Hong Kong's Li Tong Group (aka LTG) to get the job done. LTG, a specialist in reverse logistics, operates a network of 21 facilities in North America, Europe, Asia and Latin America. You can think of it as a contract "un-manufacturer" -- an organization authorized to take apart smartphones, computer networking equipment and other electronics devices. LTG handles items that are traded in, returned or unsold. Source: GreenBiz, 8/27/15
  • The circular economy's missing ingredient: Local
    The latest P2 Impact column has been published over at GreenBiz. John Mulrow, Interim Director at Plant Chicago, writes about an often-overlooked aspect of the material reuse craze. Source:
  • U. of I. to lead center for power optimization in mobile electronics
    Heat is the enemy for people designing cars, construction machinery, aircraft and mobile electronics. When electrical systems do more work, they get hotter. When they get too hot, they operate inefficiently, fail or even melt. A new, $18.5 million Engineering Research Center led by the U. of I. is out to pack more power into less space for electrical systems. The center is funded by the National Science Foundation. Source: University of Illinois News Bureau, Inside Illinois, 8/20/15
  • Illini Gadget Garage will provide a space to repair electronics on campus
    The goal of the Gadget Garage project -- part of the Sustainable Electronics Initiative at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center -- is to extend the useful life of electronic products and reduce electronic waste. Source: University of Illinois, 8/24/15
  • E-waste: The Nuts and Bolts of Why It Still Plagues our Landfills
    Carol Baroudi of Arrow Electronics, Jason Linnell of the National Center for Electronics Recycling, and Wayne Rifer and Jonas Allen of the Green Electronics Council help illuminate the reasons why electronic waste continues to be a vexing issue. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/19/15
  • Why We Shouldn't be Collecting Electronics at the Curb
    Jason Linnell of the National Center for Electronics Recycling discusses the reasons why curbside collection of electronics is not a good solution for electronics recycling, despite the potential convenience for consumers. Source: Waste 360
  • Inside Microsoft's wind energy strategy
    Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable power from two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms -- capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes -- could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment. Source: GreenBiz, 8/18/15
  • Green Electronics in an Age of Endless Innovation
    Global smartphone sales reached 1 billion in 2013 and 1.2 billion in 2014. By comparison, television sales may fall to below 200 million this year. There are profound trends in the works in the IT industry as our gadgets become increasingly mobile and sophisticated, with users demanding huge energy efficiency gains. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/10/15
  • Tracing conflict minerals proves elusive -- and expensive
    The clock for corporates looking to get a handle on supply chain conflict minerals is starting to tick much louder. With just one year to go before stricter reporting is required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, many companies are still struggling to trace their sources for metals such as gold, tungsten, tantalum and tin, according to an analysis of reports submitted for the most recent reporting period. Source: GreenBiz.com, 8/10/15
  • Doctor warns about lead poisoning risk from recycling older electronic equipment
    The disposal and recycling of electronic devices has increased exposure to lead and other toxicants and created "an emerging health concern," according to a pediatrician who directs the Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. In a recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Nick Newman reports on two children, ages 1 and 2, whose father worked at an e-scrap recycling company crushing cathode ray tubes (CRTs). CRTs, made from leaded glass, were commonly used in televisions and computer monitors but largely have been replaced by newer technologies. The children had blood lead levels of 18 micrograms per deciliter and 14 micrograms per deciliter. Although no safe blood lead level in children has been identified, a reference level of 5 micrograms per deciliter is now used to identify children for whom parents, doctors and public health officials should take action to reduce exposure to lead. The father left his job soon after the elevated blood lead levels were detected, the levels subsequently decreased to 8.7 and 7.9 parts per deciliter over the next three months. Source: Medical Press, 7/28/15
  • ERI, iFixit work together to recover, sell parts
    With commodity prices continuing to slump, Electronic Recyclers International has teamed up with iFixit to move further into reselling working parts and pieces of devices instead of shredding them. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/30/15
  • This smartphone game exposes the human cost of recycling e-waste
    Burn the Boards, which has just come out on iOS to complement an earlier Android release, is a game about what happens after you ditch your phone. The technical term for this sort of thing is e-waste. Various components in abandoned electronic goods can be salvaged, reused, or recycled. Harvesting these parts, however, often results in exposure to a variety of foul substances, which is to say nothing of large-scale pollution that is caused by the clumsy and negligent recycling of e-waste. As such, e-waste is less of a technical problem than it is a human one: The handling of these items exposes informal workers to considerable risks. Burn the Boards focuses on these human costs. Source: Kill Screen, 7/28/15
  • EPEAT: Moving the Electronics Market Toward Green Standards
    Environmental standards often aren't the first thing we think about when hunting for a new computer. We may check to see if it's well made, whether it uses a lot of energy to run and whether the manufacturer has a good rep. But oftentimes (probably too often), the bells and whistles win out over whether the apparatus was made with environmental concerns in mind. It turns out that many companies are considering environmental design qualities anyway -- the reduction in environmental harmful emissions, the decrease in exposure to toxic substances like mercury and the use of substances that don't end up in landfills -- thanks to a set of privately designed standards. They are called EPEAT, or Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, and they serve as the Green Electronics Council's gold standard for environmentally preferable electronics. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/28/15
  • At the Core of Sustainable Electronics
    There's rightfully much ado about the climate -- from extreme weather events, severe droughts and water crises to fossil fuels and the race to renewables. However, there's far too little talk about electronics and their role in environmental ecosystems. Source: Environmental Leader, 7/27/15
  • The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
    With water in ever-shorter supply in drought-ravaged California, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15
  • HP to Power Texas Data Centers With Wind Energy
    For years, clean energy developers could look to only a small handful of corporations as project partners or customers for their power. Mostly, there was Google, and a few other high-tech companies that worked directly with wind and solar developers to help green their energy use. Now, that appears to be changing. On Tuesday, Hewlett-Packard announced a 12-year contract to buy 112 megawatts from a wind farm that SunEdison is expanding in Texas. That is enough, HP said, to operate its data centers there, the equivalent of powering 42,600 homes each year. The deal follows a flurry of other recent agreements. Source: The New York Times, 7/21/15
  • Processors say Illinois law ignores CRT recycling options
    An industry group has criticized a recently signed bill modifying the e-scrap law in Illinois, saying the state failed to account for existing recycling outlets for CRT glass. In a letter sent to the Illinois EPA on July 20, a group consisting of 13 electronics recycling companies, including some of the industry's most prominent, argues House Bill 1455 assumes "CRT glass is not recyclable." Information from regional glass processors shows "this is not the case," the group said. The following companies signed onto the letter: AVA Recycling, Cascade Asset Management, CJD E-Cycling, Com2 Recycling Solutions, Comprenew, ECS Refining, Electronic Recyclers International, E-Scrap Technologies, Genesis Electronics Recycling, Global Environmental Services, Novotec, Sims Recycling Solutions and Supply-Chain Services. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/23/15
  • The tech industry is threatening to drink California dry
    With California thought to have only one year of water left, Silicon Valley data centers are trying to reduce their needs for cooling. Source: The Guardian, 7/20/15
  • Why We're All a Part of the Green Electronics Conversation
    From material sourcing and production to recovery and recycling, stakeholders in the electronics space embraced the concept of a circular economy years before it was fashionable. Source: Triple Pundit, 7/14/15
  • A Biodegradable Computer Chip That Performs Surprisingly Well
    Biodegradable, wood-based computer chips can perform just as well as chips commonly used for wireless communication, according to new research. The inventors argue that the new chips could help address the global problem of rapidly accumulating electronic waste, some of which contains potentially toxic materials. The results also show that a transparent, wood-derived material called nanocellulose paper is an attractive alternative to plastic as a surface for flexible electronics. Source: MIT Technology Review, 7/14/15
  • Startup Uses Climate-Changing Methane to Make Eco-Friendly Plastic
    A small Costa Mesa, Calif., company has lined up contracts with major corporations to supply the plastic for packaging, containers and chairs from potent methane that would've instead seeped into the atmosphere. Source: FutureStructure, 7/14/15
  • Rauner signs electronics recycling bill into law
    A temporary fix aimed to save underfunded electronics recycling programs statewide was signed into law last week by Gov. Bruce Rauner, allowing Will County officials to breathe a sigh relief -- for now. Source: Joliet Herald-News, 7/14/15
  • NC bill could eliminate e-waste manufacturer fees
    A North Carolina bill that passed the state senate could remove electronics manufacturers' responsibility to fund the recycling of electronics. If it becomes law, HB 765 would repeal manufacturers' recycling fee requirements for discarded computer equipment and televisions, which totaled nearly $1 million in the last fiscal year. Even without manufacturer's requirements to help recycle e-waste, such waste still will be prohibited from landfills. Source: Waste Dive, 7/10/15
  • Removing Toxic Electronics From NYC's Waste
    While the dangers of climate change attract more attention than other environmental issues, the problems of waste and toxics also persist--and are worthy of attention and action. One of the fastest growing environmental problems of the past decade has been the rapid increase in electronic waste. As society moves from the iPhone 2 to the iPhone 6, all of those old iPhones must go somewhere. Tablets, PCs, old TVs, DVD players, wireless routers and countless other devices are nearly always abandoned before their useful life is over. Many of these devices contain small quantities of toxic substances. When discarded, these toxics can enter our routine garbage pick up and disposal system. That system is not designed to handle hazardous waste. Here in New York City, efforts to regulate and manage electronic waste began during Mayor Bloomberg's PlaNYC program and continue under Mayor de Blasio's OneNYC. This past January, New York City and New York State instituted a ban on disposing electronic waste in regular garbage disposal. New Yorkers who toss their iPhone into the garbage could be subject to a $100 fine. In New York City, the Sanitation Department does not provide regularly scheduled pickup of electronic waste and since many apartment dwellers do not own autos, disposing larger pieces of electronic waste legally may be infeasible or at least inconvenient. In response, the city's Sanitation Department has developed a program that works with apartment buildings to collect electronic waste. Source: The Huffington Post, 7/13/15
  • Chevrolet is using old batteries to save...bats?
    Chevrolet's landfill-free ?goal? requires it to account for every single waste stream generated at its operations. Circuit trays called the attention of environmental engineers at the landfill-free Kokomo Operations in Indiana? as they were not wanted by any local recyclers. After a bit ?of ?stewing on the problem, Chevrolet staff John Bradburn had an eureka moment when he realized that he could swap out the wood pallet layers in the original bat box design with the trays, which also would save time as he could just notch two wood pieces on the sides, enabling him to slide these trays one after another right inside the battery case. Source: GreenBiz, 6/29/15
  • Sprint, Staples, Kimberly-Clark: the litmus test for wheat-straw paper
    Most people equate paper with cutting down trees, but an abundant eco-alternative covers literally tens of millions of acres across the North American prairies. Wheat straw, typically burned or landfilled by farmers to make way for new crops, is slowly gaining credibility as a durable replacement for virgin and recycled fiber from trees. The latest evidence comes from Sprint, which will test wheat straw paper made by Prairie Paper -- the Canadian startup co-founded by actor Woody Harrelson -- in customer mailings. Office supplies company Staples and tissue manufacturer Kimberly-Clark likewise have committed to this 'rapidly renewable' source of fiber. Other big companies getting behind wheat straw paper including Staples, which began stocking approximately two years ago. The office retailer estimates that for every two boxes of Step Forward Paper consumed, one tree is saved. Kimberly-Clark is using wheat straw, along with bamboo, for a series of products that use 20 percent plant fiber instead of tree fiber or recycled paper. The items include tissue paper and paper towels. The company is sourcing straw for the GreenHarvest line directly from farmers. Source: GreenBiz, 6/29/15
  • Lessons from an E-Scrap Workshop
    Scott Cassel writes about participating in a panel at the Indiana Recycling Coalition Conference as part of Indiana's first E-cycle stakeholder meeting. "In a room filled with dedicated solid waste managers, recyclers, environmentalists, and government officials, we took a look at Indiana's current e-scrap recycling law to identify successes, challenges, and potential solutions." Source: The PSI Blog (Product Stewardship Institute), 6/30/15
  • Inside the Foundry -- AT&T's IoT innovation center
    The IoT Foundry, part of a network of AT&T tech innovation centers, is a hub for the fast-growing Internet of Things, or IoT for short. Amid the quirky Silicon Valley vibe -- the rat's nest of cables, the mobile furniture, the indoor scooters and all the rest -- there's a decidedly serious mission: to envision and invent the next generation of efficiency technologies. Source: GreenBiz.com, 6/29/15
  • Upcycling for Good: Meet the Digitruck
    For a decade, in partnership with Arrow's Value Recovery business, Close the Gap (CTG), an international nonprofit organization working to bridge the digital divide, has been distributing high-quality, pre-owned computers to people in developing and emerging countries. These computers are donated by large and medium-size corporations and public organizations that want to make a difference. Together, over the past 10 years, Close the Gap and Arrow Value Recovery have processed 440,000 donated computers and reached over 1.5 million users. However, the digital divide isn't simply due to a lack of available technology. For many, it starts with a lack of electricity. What good is a device if you don't have the electricity to power it? For many of the 75 percent of Africans who live in rural communities, a lack of infrastructure, including utilities such as electricity, makes the digital divide a veritable chasm. To span this great divide, Close the Gap has partnered with Greenlink to create a solar-powered mobile unit -- the Digitruck -- which is built with triple insulation to withstand the sub-Saharan African heat. The Digitruck can be used as a classroom or a clinic and can travel from village to village. Source: Arrow Value Recovery, 12/22/14
  • ISRI: Residents oppose one-bin collections
    The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries says a new poll supports its position opposing one-bin collections for delivery to mixed-waste processing facilities. The ISRI and Earth911 poll asked online readers the following: Is it worth the convenience to not separate your recyclables from your trash if when sorted after collection, it negatively affects the amount of materials that can be recycled? The result: 75 percent supported maintaining a separate bin for recycling. Source: Resource Recycling, 6/23/15