A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

A recent E-Waste newsletter included an article on the electronics recycling conference in which “dozens of industry experts took to the stage in Orlando to discuss the trends and challenges shaping electronics recovery right now.”

Here are some of what we believe were the most interesting things covered in the article.

1) Several experts agreed the newer flat-panel displays might not follow the path of CRT televisions. They felt with 36 facilities already processing cold-cathode fluorescent lamps in the U.S. and many charging a fee to take these LCD flatpanel displays, there won’t be the problems there were with the older CRTs.

2) These experts also felt, We could use a clearer definition of ITAD (IT asset disposition). They were not sure what constituted recycling as opposed to either reuse or breaking items down for their materials.

For example, when panelists were asked what percentage of their revenues come from ITAD applications, answers varied. One vice-president explained, “We’re close to 50-50 ITAD vs. recycling. But it depends on how you define the terms. When we shred something for a customer, it’s a service. Is that ITAD or recycling? It’s a debate we even have internally.”

The CEO of another company stated “30 to 35 percent of equipment that comes in is suitable for repair and reuse.” His company prefers that as “turning something from recycling to reuse generates significantly more income, and we use that as an argument, as an opportunity for our customers to take a look at some items that they are choosing to destroy because of a perceived security risk, to see if we can work with them to resell it to generate more income for them and for us.”

3) Another panelist felt opportunity is arising in the sharing economy. She mentioned, “around the world consumers are increasingly adopting an ‘asset-free’ lifestyle in which they lease products instead of owning them outright.” This is growing in popularity. The trend could be a boon for the refurb sector because such systems have clear takeback mechanisms already in place.”

4) Finally for today on this topic, it was mentioned that desktops and laptops aren’t disappearing. Although there were “plenty of predictions that more traditional (and higher value) computer models will get completely phased out,” this isn’t holding true.

The expert here explained, “We all have hands and eyes. People said iPads would eliminate laptops, but it became clear we can’t write a long email on a tablet as well as on a laptop. For us, it’s not necessarily about what is the latest and greatest but what is available.” And for many what is already handy and paid for.

Now for a final item from another, just received, e-waste newsletter. It highlighted, “tax reform legislation moving through Congress could help electronics recycling companies deduct equipment expenditures.” Both the House and Senate bills allow full and immediate expensing of purchased equipment through 2023. This is important for the recycling industry, as it includes many equipmentheavy operations.

In support of the tax bills are recycling promoters such as the American Chemistry Council, the American Forest & Paper Association, the American Iron and Steel Institute, and the Plastics Industry Association. They all praised the various aspects of the House or Senate bills. The National Waste and Recycling Association (NWRA), concerned about the small haulers and other members, is also watching the progress of the bills..

Till next week, do have a great 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 omaier@txstate.edu

San Marcos Daily Record

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