Recent News

  • NJ:Preventing the E-Waste Stream from Becoming a Flood
    Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill to overhaul the state's e-waste recycling program, a step advocates say will ensure the safe disposal of old televisions, computers, and other electronic equipment. The legislation (S-981) is designed to put the onus on electronic manufacturers to bear the cost and obligation of recycling e-waste, which includes in many cases toxic materials such as lead. By most accounts, New Jersey's e-waste recycling program was nearing collapse, with old electronic equipment piling up around the state, including in many public works' garages. A couple of years ago, the market for e-waste declined, causing many manufacturers to cut back on what they picked up from towns and counties while reducing what they paid recycling vendors. That left counties and towns, which collect the material, with no place to recycle the e-waste. "This law clarifies the manufacturers' obligation and gives the state Department of Environmental Protection new power to act should the product makers drop the ball," said Dominick D'Altilio, president of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers, which lobbied for the changes. Source: NJSpotlight, 1/10/17
  • 80% of Companies Don't Know If Their Products Contain Conflict Minerals
    Manufacturing used to be highly vertically integrated in the U.S. For example, Ford's River Rouge plant not only assembled cars but also made its own steel, glass, fabrics, power, and cement on-site. But since outsourcing has become an increasingly common approach to cutting costs, many producers now rely heavily on globally dispersed supply chains. For example, Apple works with at least 200 suppliers and 242 smelters and refineries across the world. There are similar stories in the electronics industry, pet food, pharmaceuticals, and even national security. It's no wonder so many consumers have no idea where their favorite brands come from. But are businesses any better informed than their customers? We wanted to find out. (Article by Yong H. Kim and Gerald F. Davis.) Source: Harvard Business Review, 1/4/17
  • EPA Recognizes Electronics Manufacturers, Retailers and Brand Owners for Making Electronics More Sustainable
    Tomorrow, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recognize leading electronics manufacturers, retailers, and brand owners for their significant contributions in diverting electronics from landfills. The winners will be honored during an event at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Electronic products are a global economic driver, with supply chains reaching around the world. By designing with the environment in mind and through a lifecycle lens, the product can be made to be more readily repairable and reusable, while toxic materials can be designed out of the product, which extends product life and facilitates recycling. In the spirit of innovation, the EPA is unveiling a new award this year: The Cutting Edge Award. This award promotes bold ideas that have the potential to make a huge impact on the future of sustainable electronics management across a product's full supply chain. It is designed to encourage life cycle thinking while creating ambitious and new ideas that have the potential to be game changers in addressing sustainability in electronics. Source: US EPA, 1/6/17
  • The E-Waste Aftermath of Samsung's Galaxy Note7 Recall
    Samsung and waste management companies are facing the challenge of safely disposing or recycling the massive amount of e-waste caused by the recall. Source: Waste360, 11/16/16
  • National e-scrap recycling rate is up
    The weight of electronics recycled in 2014 increased from the year before, according to data from the U.S. EPA. The electronics recycling rate in 2014 was 41.7 percent. That is an increase from 37.8 percent the year before. In all, 1.4 million tons of electronics were recycled in 2014, up from nearly 1.3 million tons. E-scrap generation, however, stayed the same at 1.3 percent of the entire municipal solid waste (MSW) stream. According to the U.S. EPA's report, selected consumer electronics accounted for 3.3 million tons in the waste stream in both 2014 and 2013. Source: Resource Recycling, 11/17/16
  • Why worker-led monitoring is needed to challenge electronic sweatshops
    An alternative global strategy for the protection and promotion of workers' human rights in ICT supply chains is emerging, writes David Foust Rodríguez, Coordinator of the Center for Labor Reflection and Action. Source: New Internationalist Blog, 11/2/16
  • Illini Gadget Garage Helps Fix Electronics
    Promoting Saturday's America Recycles Day event CI Living featured the Illini Gadget Garage. Source: WCIA-TV
  • Greenpeace: Samsung's Exploding Phone Presents Opportunity for Leadership
    Samsung embarked upon an aggressive recall program that promises customers can exchange or refund their Note 7 phones. But Greenpeace insists 4.3 million of those smartphones were sold before Samsung halted their distribution, which poses a huge electronic waste (e-waste) challenge. As Reuters reported last week, Samsung said it will remain "in full compliance with relevant local environmental regulations" as it sorts out what to do with the recalled phones, which contain valuable metals such as gold, tungsten and palladium. But Greenpeace is calling on Samsung to be more transparent as to how it will process all of those smartphones. Source: Triple Pundit, 11/8/16
  • Cobalt Supply Chain Under Scrutiny for Congo Links
    Cobalt isn't officially a "conflict mineral" of the kind that's subject to strict reporting requirements under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, but a study published Wednesday says companies are treating the metal as if it were. Increased pressure from non-government organizations and trade associations advocating responsible mining practices is leading many companies to adopt the same supply chain due diligence programs they use for conflict minerals--gold, tin, tungsten and tantalum. Cobalt is the main raw material in lithium-ion batteries powering cell phones and electric vehicles, and although relatively abundant, mining of the metal is concentrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The conflict minerals rule was aimed specifically at depriving Congolese warlords of funds through requiring companies to scrub their supply chains, so the mining of cobalt there could raise the same concerns about proceeds of the metal fueling conflict. Source: The Wall Street Journal, 11/2/16
  • GAM Certified Conflict-Free by CFSI
    Global Advanced Metals Pty Ltd (GAM), a leading producer of tantalum products, was recently recertified conflict-free through the EICC/GeSI and CFSI Conflict Free Smelter Program (CFSP) following successful audits of its Aizu, Japan and Pennsylvania, USA facilities. GAM is the first smelter of any metal to be certified conflict-free under this program for seven consecutive years. Source: Global Advanced Metals via CSRWire, 10/31/16
  • Electronics Recycling Collection to Resume in Naperville (IL)
    Naperville's Environmental Collection Campus will once again serve as a collection point for electronics recycling beginning Monday, Nov. 7. Source: Naperville Patch, 11/3/16
  • 3-D-printed permanent magnets outperform conventional versions, conserve rare materials
    Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have demonstrated that permanent magnets produced by additive manufacturing can outperform bonded magnets made using traditional techniques while conserving critical materials. Source: Phys Org, 11/1/16
  • Researchers find problems in tracking North American e-scrap exports
    A recent study estimated the volume of used computers and display devices traded among and exported from North American countries to the rest of the world. But the researchers encountered a lack of solid data, and they suggested ways to improve e-scrap export numbers. Many might expect the often-discussed hotspots for North American e-scrap exports, including places in East Asia, Latin America and Africa, to be listed as top destinations in this exports study. Instead, researchers found many of the countries listed as top destinations are likely waypoints for electronics headed elsewhere. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) took the lead in conducting the study on behalf of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, a joint U.S.-Canada-Mexico body set up as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Researchers explored the quantities of used desktops, laptops, CRT monitors and flat-panel monitors traveling between the three countries and being exported by them to the rest of the world. It was based on 2010 data. Researchers found that data limitations made it impossible to pin down exact numbers on e-scrap exports. For example, they were able to determine that the U.S. exported between 1.1 million and 7 million used computers, and 779,000 and 5.7 million used monitors in 2010. Source: Resource Recycling, 10/27/16
  • Making A Better Phone Battery From Beer Brewery Waste
    For every pint of beer produced by a brewery, seven pints of waste water are created. And it can't just be washed down the drain--the waste requires extra cleaning first. But what if the gunk that comes out of that water could be used for something useful? Like, for making batteries? That's exactly what a research team at University of Colorado Boulder is doing. Source: Fast Company, 10/25/16
  • Saving silver: portable micro-factories could turn e-waste trash into treasure
    A new low-cost alternative to smelting could solve Australia's electronic waste problem, eliminate shipping emissions and create new business opportunities Source: The Guardian, 9/20/16
  • Mold Might Be The Future Of Recycling For Rechargeable Batteries
    Tossing a worn-out smartphone battery in the trash also means chucking the ever-more-valuable materials inside-- namely, lithium and cobalt. As the world works to deal with this growing stream of e-waste, one team is evaluating the potential of a natural battery recycling method-- fungi, or more specifically, mold. Source: Forbes, 8/21/16
  • 'Sporks in space': Bothell firm brings recycling to final frontier
    Can recycling be successfully launched in outer space? Tethers Unlimited, Inc., a Bothell-based aerospace technology company, plans to find out when its recycling/3D printing system is tested aboard the International Space Station. The company has been awarded a NASA contract to develop and deliver a Positrusion Recycler to sterilize and recycle plastic waste such as packaging materials, utensils, trays and food storage containers into high-quality 3D filament. Dirty plastic dinnerware will ultimately be turned into satellite components, replacement parts, and astronaut tools via a high-quality 3D printer, creating the first "closed-cycle" in-space manufacturing system. Source: The Herald Business Journal, 8/24/16
  • Samsung to Sell High-end Refurbished Cell Phones
    Wouldn't it be great to own a Galaxy S or Galaxy Note 7 with a much lower price tag and environmental impact? According to Reuters, Samsung is planning to launch a program that will refurbish premium smartphones, offering refurbished versions for a lower cost. Source: Triple Pundit, 8/23/16
  • Tokyo's Olympic medals might be made from discarded smartphones
    Organizers of the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo aim to produce gold, silver, and bronze medals from the metals found in discarded smartphones and other electronics, according to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review. As the business journal reports, Olympic organizers, government officials, and executives first discussed the plan during a June meeting organized by a Japanese NGO. The hope is that such a scheme would help raise awareness around so-called "e-waste," though Japan would need to implement a more comprehensive system for collecting discarded electronics. Source: The Verge, 8/22/16
  • Bedford rare earth recoverer set to launch project
    A consortium of European investors is backing a Bedford rare earth metals company just ahead of its imminent completion of a pilot project to demonstrate the effectiveness of its technology. The method used by Ucore passes a solution containing rare earth metals from mine tailings through a chemical filter which traps the precious metals. The method is called SuperLig molecular recognition technology and was developed by Utah-based IBC Advanced Technologies. That company sold the exclusive global rights to this technology for rare earth metal separation, recycling and tailings processing applications to Ucore for U.S.-$2.9 million last year. Since then, the two companies have formed a joint venture, in which Ucore has controlling interest, to market this technology to the rare earth metals sector. And they've undertaken a pilot project to demonstrate how well it works. Source: The Chronicle Herald, 8/1/16
  • Magnet without Chinese rare earths a boon for automakers
    Honda Motor Co. and Daido Steel Co. have developed a magnet for hybrid vehicles that does not contain dysprosium, a feat that allows them to bypass China's near-monopoly on the rare earth element. The technology, touted as a world first in terms of practical use, means the companies will be protected from a potential surge in rare earth element prices. Source: The Asahi Shimbun, 8/2/16
  • Electronics Recycling Patent Watch
    A national processing company develops a collection bin for e-scrap, and researchers at the University of Houston push forward in rare-earth recovery. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/3/16
  • Project looks to lift recovery of precious metals from e-scrap
    A trial program in Europe is exploring more efficient ways of recovering a range of raw materials from used electronics and appliances. The project will focus on recovering gold, platinum, antimony, cobalt, graphite and other elements from small appliances and household electronics. The Critical Raw Material Recovery project includes trial collection programs for e-scrap, including retailer take-back systems and drop-off collection bins at universities, businesses and other recycling events. In addition, the program will test five reprocessing and recovery techniques focused on recovering the metals. The effort is organized by U.K.-based Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), an organization that works with governments and the private sector to boost recycling. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/4/16
  • E-scrap certification spreads to Singapore
    A processing operation in Singapore has become the first e-Stewards-certified location in Southeast Asia. Basel Action Network, the Seattle-based nonprofit group that owns the e-Stewards certification, announced that Global Ewaste Solutions has achieved certification for its Singapore location. The company has also gained e-Stewards certification for locations in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia. Source: Resource Recycling, 8/4/16
  • The Fix Is Out: Product Repairs Get Tougher in New Age of Obsolescence
    Mike Tyran, a nurse living near Corpus Christi, Texas, bought a used Apple iPod in 2010 and tried to repair it after the battery wouldn't charge. But when the inveterate "fixer" attempted to open the white-and-chrome rectangle, he was stumped. "I had worked on old tube radios ... (which) had diagrams (and) ... schematics. I know where the wiring goes and I know how to open it," said Tyran, 56, a former heavy diesel mechanic. "I looked at an iPod and I had no idea how to open it & because there were no screws." Tyran's realization that the sleek but defective digital music player was nearly impenetrable opened his eyes to a broader truth: He and his fellow tinkerers are living in a New Age of Obsolescence -- a time where repair is, by design, often not an option. There are many reasons that consumer products are increasingly manufactured in ways that make it nearly impossible to fix them. Among them: Ever-tighter design requirements, manufacturers' fears of intellectual property theft or liability if a repair goes wrong, and the growing number of products that contain proprietary software -- a class that will explode in the era of the Internet of Things. But critics say profit generated by repeat product sales is the biggest driver behind disposable consumer products. Source: NBC News, 8/1/16
  • India: EPR rules must include guidelines for sound disposal of E-waste: Experts
    Mumbai: With the environment ministry notifying the new E-Waste Management Rules 2016, that would bring the producers under Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), experts feel the need to infuse capital and recognise recycling as an industry. The new rules would make the manufacturer responsible to collect e-waste generated during the manufacture of any electrical and electronic equipment and also seek authorisation from State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs). Source: The Free Press Journal, 7/28/16
  • China: Government moves to tackle e-waste pollution
    Authorities impose stringent regulations on workshops whose activities damage the ecosystem, report Zheng Jinran in Beijing and Qiu Quanlin in Shantou, Guangdong province. Guiyu, a township in Guangdong province, has developed a cleaner, healthier atmosphere since strict restrictions on the disposal of electronic waste-including televisions, air conditioners, washing machines, cellphones and computers-came into force in 2013. Known as the e-waste capital of the world since the 1990s, Guiyu has grown into a major hub for its disposal. In its heyday, more than 100,000 people, about 50 percent of the permanent residents, made a living dismantling electronic equipment to harvest the expensive metals inside, according to Lin Qiurong, head of the township government. Source: China Daily, 7/25/16
  • California hikes consumer fees on new electronics
    California will boost the sums consumers pay when they buy new display devices, ensuring the solvency of a state fund backing e-scrap recycling. Scott Smithline, director of the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), on July 20 approved increasing the fees. The fees are currently $3 for devices with screens less than 15 inches in diameter, $4 for devices with screens between 15 inches and 35 inches, and $5 for screens larger than 35 inches. The increased advanced recovery fees (ARFs) use the same tiered structure as the old ones but bump the numbers up to $5, $6 and $7. California is the only state to use ARFs to fund its e-scrap recycling program. ARFs in the state currently apply to purchases of LCD displays, laptops with LCD screens, plasma TVs and personal DVD players. Consumers bought nearly 15.8 million electronics with ARFs during the 2015-16 fiscal year. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/21/16
  • Rising metals values pull minerals producer into e-scrap refining
    A Nevada mining and refining company announced it will start accepting e-scrap -- specifically, ground up circuit boards from computers. Itronics Inc. plans to make silver bullion from its own internal silver concentrates and the silver found in recovered circuit boards. The company will also extract gold, palladium, copper and aluminum from e-scrap for other uses. Itronics noted it is getting the circuit boards from a Reno-based computer repair and sales company. It is also close to inking a similar deal with New2U Computers, a nonprofit group that repairs and resells old computers. Source: Resource Recycling, 7/21/16
  • Kane County [IL] trying to relaunch electronics recycling
    Kane County is working to revamp and reactivate its electronics recycling program, which was suspended months ago after the county received an unmanageable volume of materials. By creating a new system for daily collection sites and resuming special recycling events, the county hopes to again provide residents with opportunities to safely dispose of their TVs, computers and electronics, said recycling coordinator Jennifer Jarland. Source: The Daily Herald, 7/18/16