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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Today we will talk a little about recycling E-Waste (electronic items, mainly computers, cell phones, etc.). Three stories in the E-Scrap News publication caught my eye. The first concerns a new and the only national mail-in recycling program that’s owned and operated by a social enterprise.

This nonprofit e-scrap recycling organization, Tech Dump, is based in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. Its new mail-in electronics recycling program is called Scrubb it.

While we like the idea of being able to ship them such electronic scrap items as cell phones, laptop computers, tablets, etc., we were a little disappointed that one has to purchase a $25 postage label to ship them. However, on the plus side, the shipping label does allow you to ship up to 30 pounds of such items.

And a point in their favor is, like Goodwill, this nonprofit provides job training and practical experience for adults facing barriers to employment. This training and recycling effort takes place in a 90,000 squarefoot facility located in Golden Valley, Minnesota, just outside of Minneapolis, and St. Paul.

A second story had to do with using the glass from the older Cathode-Ray Tube (CRT) type TVs and monitors for a useful product. The Universal Recycling Technologies (URT) company, with a plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, is recycling CRT glass into a marketable product that could reduce the processor’s dependence on erratic downstream markets for leaded material.

The URT company is one of the nation’s largest e-scrap businesses. It also has plants in New Hampshire, Oregon and Texas. The company developed technology to process both leaded and unleaded CRT glass into a fine powder used to produce frit, a key ingredient in compounding enamels and ceramic glazes. Now, one of the final products using frit is making tiles in both the Wisconsin and New Hampshire plants. The company is able to make about 60 tons of frit per day.

I find there is almost an unending appetite for the frit product, which is cheaper for tile manufacturers than the lead, silica and other fluxes they otherwise use. Now that we know a little about frit and its uses, let's move on to a third item I found interesting.

The third item was titled, “Feds put millions behind lithium-ion battery recycling.”

The article started, “The U.S. Department of Energy will award $5.5 million to companies advancing lithium-ion battery recycling technology, and it will dedicate $15 million to developing a research center focused on the material.”

It's always nice to know some of our taxpayer money is used for good purposes.

The goal is to reclaim and recycle critical materials used in lithium-based batteries. These batteries are becoming used more and more in our country. Using these funds for research, it is hoped up to 90 percent of America’s lithium-based battery materials can be captured and thus reduce our dependence on foreign sources.

However, lithium-ion batteries have a current recycling rate of less than five percent in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy. Of course, one of the current problems is used lithium-ion batteries can cause explosions and fires in processing and transport if they are not handled properly.

The money for this research came about because of a recent federal “critical materials” list. The list was made in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order requesting it, as he wanted to reduce reliance on foreign sources for certain important materials.

And with that, till next week, do have an enjoyable and safe one.


Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666