HOBI International President, Craig Boswell, participated in a panel discussion at the most recent ISRI Convention in early April. The subject hand, ‘How To Make Money In Electronics Recycling,’ brought up some interesting points on the processing of cathode ray tube (CRT) devices by electronics recyclers.
Although newer display technologies such as LCD, plasma display and OLED, which have lower manufacturing costs, power consumption, weight and bulk, are replacing CRT glass, the problem still remains of how to responsibly recycle it.
Boswell was accompanied by a panel of experienced IT asset management and disposition vendors from around the country to shed light on the issue. The discussion was kicked of by a panelist who raised the point that everyone thinks CRT devices are just going to go away some day, but they keep piling in.
The main issue that comes with the processing of CRT devices is the cost and willingness from all parties to pay for the service. Boswell contributed by stating he saw the disposal problem as an economical one, adding that electronics recyclers have gotten into trouble because they did not adequately price for handling the material. He said the charge is now built into the pricing model in the business-to-business environment.
However, another panelist added this is not always the case. ITAD vendors have walked away from contracts with OEMs because they were not willing to pay enough for responsible recycling services.
How is EPR legislation involved?
Extended producer responsibility (EPR) legislation has played a significant part in the electronics recycling industry, resulting in OEMs searching for processing partners based on cost rather than value and reliability. While OEMs would rather responsibly recycle this unwanted material, they are not happy about paying to recycle material that is 15 to 20 years old, giving certified ITAD vendors negative connotation.
Boswell added that while the implementation of the EPR laws have caused issues between OEMs and electronics recyclers, the concept itself was to get OEMs interested in the end life of their products, promote design for disassembly and forge relationships between OEMS and recyclers. Design for disassembly is a key component of EPR regulation and have been seeing positive results.
The goal of the panel of recyclers is to get a seat at the table when these laws are redrafted and reviewed, as they previously did not have much leverage.
Despite these difficulties, Boswell said he still finds electronics recycling a great industry “because you can still bootstrap it.”
IT asset management and electronics recycling is not a “one size fits all” industry. Everything is specialized and yet there is still immense room for innovative opportunities.