Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Google. Show all posts

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Alexandra Cousteau on Kilimanjaro, the Clean Water Crisis, and Transgender Fish

Summit-village-group-475
You’d expect someone who has spent most of her life at or below sea level to sweat a little harder hiking up 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro on the Summit on the Summit climb last January. Not so for Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques, lifelong water advocate, and a National Geographic emerging explorer. While she can’t explain why altitude sickness didn’t affect her on Africa’s tallest peak, she can shed light on why we all are connected to the climbers' cause, the global clean water crisis. Here Cousteau explains the issues surrounding water scarcity worldwide, her upcoming Blue Legacy expedition, and what you can do to help out.

You grew up diving the planet’s great oceans and are now a leading advocate to help improve water issues worldwide. Did you feel a little like a fish out of water climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain?
That was definitely the first time I had scaled a mountain of that size. It was challenging to trek five to seven hours every day at altitude. The weather was not cooperating very well. We had fog, rain, hail, and snow. But I was fortunate in that I didn’t experience any physical ailments at all.

Continue reading "Alexandra Cousteau on Kilimanjaro, the Clean Water Crisis, and Transgender Fish" »

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal

Homes in 16 Orange County cities get foreclosure dates

Every week, homes throughout Orange County go to foreclosure auctions. The owners can be millions of dollars in debt, foreclosedhomesmediumor owe just a few thousand.

Often these homes revert to the lenders, who eventually put them back on the market. Sometimes the homes are bought by investors and resold.

Foreclosures affect more than the homeowners involved. They can impact entire neighborhoods. At the very least, they can affect nearby home sales.

All of these homes and addresses have been listed in the public notices, as required by law.

For auction info, click on city:

 

widget-lansner-text-messageRead more:

How foreclosure auctions work

Trustee, trustor … what’s the difference? Click here for foreclosure terms and definitions

Top tips for buying investment properties

http://mortgage.freedomblogging.com/

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reverse Mortgages Get Special Attention from Federal Investigators

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an arm of the Treasury which generally tracks drug money and terrorist funding has now apparently added Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) fraud to their efforts.

In a recent Miami Herald article titled, “Crooks Misusing Foreign Trade,” James H. Freis, director of (FinCEN), said, “FinCEN has seen a big problem recently with home equity conversion mortgages....regulators are also seeing seniors duped into buying financial products not in their best interest as an outright theft of proceeds from reverse mortgage proceeds.”

Although I applaud FinCEN, the HUD Inspector General and all other law enforcement agencies who try and protect us from predatory practices, I am afraid statements such as these are not qualified, yet have some how still become the norm rather that the exception.

Former FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery commented by saying, “such statements that go without a challenge are downright destructive to the reverse mortgage industry.”

I can’t agree more.  Qualifying these statements is not the sole responsibility of MBA and or NRMLA. I can think of others who claim to have the best interest of our seniors at heart who should take up a position to support law enforcement’s effort to protect seniors but who should also profess the benefits of the reverse mortgage program and the potential positive impact on our seniors.

To that point where is AARP?

Although they did show positive support for the program back in 2007, there hasn't been much mentioned of it since. Do they not believe that the future generation of seniors will need a mechanism such as the reverse mortgage to maintain some semblance of a quality of life? And what about the leadership in our cities; have they not thought about the necessity of the reverse mortgage for their aging citizens? Almost every city in America is struggling with transitional housing for its seniors. Most do not have the resources to fund such requirements. Would it, therefore, not make sense to support a program that provided those seniors with the wherewithal to stay in their homes and provide for themselves?

And then there's congress. I find it incomprehensible that there isn’t a champion of this program on the Hill. Why is it that the only rhetoric coming from Washington regarding this unique program is in the form of “victims and villains”? If congress only comments on why something can’t work, is there hope for them to ever support alternatives to our aging and bankrupt entitlement system?

So why is there so little public support for the reverse mortgage program, especially if the majority of the information and data collected indicates that this program makes sense and a majority of satisfied seniors seem to exist?

Maybe it’s because the industry is so fragmented and the level of support it would require is impossible to achieve without the coordination and collaboration of all parties. But is it not time for all interested parties to put aside the need to be ‘front and center’ and take a position alongside one another? Joined in supporting a viable complement to current retirement vehicles such as pension programs, social security payments and individual retirement savings?

The reverse mortgage program is an ingenious mechanism that we can’t afford to squander.  This is an opportunity to guarantee quality of life for our seniors of tomorrow.

http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/channels/voiceofhousing/137283.aspx

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Inside the Resort Where "The Bachelor" Handed Out the 2 Final Roses

When pilot Jake Pavelka handed out the final two roses on The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love, it was at Cap Maison, a stunning property in St. Lucia.

While we don't know yet if Jake will choose Vienna or Tenley on the March 1 finale, we do know that the trio spent some time at one amazing St. Lucia resort.

Cap Maison opened only one year ago in a location above Smugglers Beach on the northwest side of the island. It's a former sugar plantation with 1,500 acres of rolling hills. Flush with beautiful design – as well as ocean views that really are as beautiful as your television's pixels claim – the property is extremely lavish.

Accommodations are in three class levels: ocean- or garden-view rooms, junior suites and ocean-view suites. The more affordable of the rooms – with views of the ocean or gardens – feature hand-painted blue, mustard-yellow and white tiles and sinks in the bathroom, as well as private verandas to soak up the view.

the bachelor resort

One of the rooms at Cap Maison, with St. Lucia's waters in full view. Photo: Cap Maison

Hand-painted tiles

Hand-painted tiles in gorgeous blue, white and mustard-yellow. Photo: Cap Maison


Yet it's within the suites where the hotel is most luxurious.

While they all have hand-painted tiles and copper sinks in the kitchen, as well as tumbled marble and travertine basins in the bathroom (and a large soaking tub), the Oceanview Villa Suite totals a whopping 3,000 square feet. There's a private pool and terrace within that space too.

In the other two classes of suites is either a whirlpool (nestled into the private veranda, with views of the turquoise waters) or a private pool. Sheer white netting can be tied around the bed posts, too, for even more privacy. Warm tones of wood on the doorways and windows make all of the rooms a cozy enclave, which is probably the intent for The Bachelor contestants, of course.

Sinks in suites

Luxurious, deep sinks in the suites. Photo: Cap Maison


A cave wine cellar houses 1,500 wine bottles to pair with a tapas menu (items like ceviche of island conch and a citrus fruit salad, or Jamaican jerk sausages with whipped sweet potatoes) at Cliff at Cap, which sources a lot of fresh produce and even has a "sweet memories" menu (including hot hazelnut and almond soufflé).

Cliff at Cap dinner

A sunset and cool breeze = recipe for a fabulous dinner date? Photo: Cap Maison

Guests at Cap Maison can even take a sail on the resort's own boat: a 46-foot Sea Ray motor launch, nicknamed "Cap Maison 1." It's got cherry-wood moldings, a foredeck to sunbathe on and a fully equipped galley.

Cap Maison boat

With cherry-wood moldings and a full kitchen, not to mention the views, the property's boat provides a mini getaway. Photo: Cap Maison

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Monday, March 1, 2010

Collecting, Interpreting and Disseminating Orange County Real Estate Data

Existing Home Listing Statistics for Orange County, California

The data below provides a snapshot of residential real estate listing statistics for Orange County, California as of 2010-02-22. Asking price and inventory statistics are shown for combined single family home and condo listings.

2010-02-22 Month/Month Year/Year
Median
Listing Price
$450,000 0.0% 5.3%
Number
of Listings
11,434 11.6% -16.2%

Last 5 Weeks of Orange County Data

Weekly inventory and median asking prices (as well as 25th and 75th percentiles) for single family and condo homes (combined) for the last five weeks are shown in the table. For a longer history of trends see the monthly averages data further down.

Week of SFH+Condo
Inventory
25th
Percentile
Median 75th
Percentile
2010-02-22 11,434 $310,000 $450,000 $729,000
2010-02-15 10,804 $309,900 $450,000 $730,000
2010-02-08 10,504 $310,000 $455,000 $739,000
2010-02-01 10,471 $305,000 $450,000 $729,000
2010-01-25 10,243 $300,000 $450,000 $729,000

Orange County 25th Percentile, Median and 75th Percentile Home Price

Orange County Home Inventory

http://www.housingtracker.net/asking-prices/orange-county-california/

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Friday, February 26, 2010

Home Shoppers, homes in 12 cities head to repo auction

First, in recent foreclosure news:

Every week, homes throughout Orange County go to foreclosure auctions. The owners can be millions of dollars in debt, foreclosedhomesmediumor owe just a few thousand.

Often these homes revert to the lenders, who eventually put them back on the market. Sometimes the homes are bought by investors and resold.

Foreclosures affect more than the homeowners involved. They can impact entire neighborhoods. At the very least, they can affect nearby home sales.

All of these homes and addresses have been listed in the public notices, as required by law.

For auction info, click on city:

Anaheim

Aliso Viejo

Coto de Caza

Huntington Beach

Irvine

Ladera Ranch

Laguna Beach

Laguna Niguel

Laguna Woods

Orange

Tustin

Yorba Linda

.

Read more:

How foreclosure auctions work 

http://mortgage.freedomblogging.com/

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Better to Wait Until Home Buyer Tax Credit Expires?

The home builders and Realtors are jazzed for the home buyer tax credit’s remaining weeks. It’s tempting for home buyers to get caught up in the hype. But perhaps you’re better off waiting?

In case you missed the news, the federal government will give you money if you buy a house–$8,000 for first-time buyers and up to $6,500 for current homeowners within certain price and income limits. The benefit covers buyers who enter into contracts before April 30 and close by June 30.

Over at Zillow’s Blog, they’re debating a Denver reader’s question: “It it better to buy now or wait until the credit expires?” He explains that competition is heated in his price range of below $150,000 in Denver and wonders if that will ebb after April.

Answers are mixed. One commenter says that prices will fall after the credit expires: “I’ve seen prices in my neighborhood jump up over $30k since the credit started,” he writes. Indeed, some analysts have argued that the benefit of the tax credit has been priced into the market and that by stimulating demand, home sellers have been able to hold off on steeper price cuts. When the credit expires, the thinking goes, home prices could fall a bit to compensate.

Others tout low mortgage rates. As we’ve written, these historically low rates may rise in the months ahead as the Fed pulls back on its mortgage purchase program–or they may not. Chances are fair that the Fed extends the program. One fellow, with the handle “NYC condos,” writes “I truly wish this meant more in Manhattan.” (Ed. note: Us, too!)

Of course, every market’s different. In Las Vegas there’s a flood of investors (with cash) who are scooping up “bargain-priced” foreclosed homes, as James R. Hagerty wrote this week. Inventory is shrinking and competition for these homes is heated, making it tough to find something to buy. One renter says he’s been outbid eight times trying to get a house. It doesn’t look likely that the credit’s expiration will quell the frenzy.

Readers, are any of you waiting out the tax credit in the hopes that prices will fall further?

http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/aroundtheweb/137120.aspx

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Inside the Toy Factory: Four lofts, four looks

Toyloft_collage

What is it about loft living that pushes people to go all-in on their design choices? Oh that's right. The lack of interior walls. Suddenly your living, dining, sleeping and cooking spaces have to relate to one another.

This week writer Audrey Davidow takes us behind the four doors at the Toy Factory Lofts building downtown. The bones of these apartments may once have been the same, but you'd never know it now. One resident, for instance, found decorating inspiration in from late 19th century Paris -- while a neighbor found it in modern Tokyo. Check them all out in our extensive photo gallery

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Saturday, February 20, 2010

surf lessons; How to do a floater

Floaters are one of the funnest things to do on a wave. Its a very functional maneuver and you can make some pretty long sections. 

Steps:

1) Get Speed and lots of it. You want to be able to climb on top of the lip and ride parallel to the wave face.

2) When you see the wave crumbling this is a good time to be up on top of the waterfall. 

3) Dont make to many adjusments and just let the wave do most of the work. Make sure you are on top of the lip and just hang there.

4) Come down with the lip and make sure you are centered on top of the board leaning forward with your front leg just pointing the board and the back leg strong and stable.

5) When you come down make sure you dont perl. Keep nose up and try a soft landing. 

I know its easier said then done but here is our youtube page of  how you can do this on a small wave.

http://www.youtube.com/user/socalsurfpro

Now get out there!

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Sunday, August 16, 2009

'Clunkers' program is costly way to cut carbon

University of California, Davis
August 14, 2009

'CLUNKERS' PROGRAM IS EXPENSIVE WAY TO CUT CARBON EMISSIONS

New UC Davis estimates say the federal government's Cash for Clunkers
program is paying at least 10 times the "sticker price" to reduce
emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

While carbon credits are projected to sell in the U.S. for about $28
per ton (today's price in Europe was $20), even the best-case
calculation of the cost of the clunkers rebate is $237 per ton, said
UC Davis transportation economist Christopher Knittel.

"When burned, a gallon of gasoline creates roughly 20 pounds of
carbon dioxide. I combined that known value with an average rebate of
$4,200 and a range of assumptions about the fuel economy of the new
vehicles purchased and how long the clunkers would have been on the
road if not for the program," Knittel said. "I even assumed drivers
didn't change their habits, although some ......https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&shva=1#inbox/1231ae7c728cf364

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alcoa and their positively "green" actions

The growing standard of living in newly developed and heavily populated parts of the world is driving a relentless need for new infrastructure and consumer goods. At the same time the human footprint on the planet has a far greater impact on fragile ecosystems than ever before.

Alcoa is meeting the challenge with a core commitment to operating sustainably in the communities and ecosystems in which we do business. At the same time, we're delivering new ideas and solutions that will help build a healthier and more sustainable future both for the planet and its people.

Solutions that help buildings, cars, airplanes, trucks and trains get more performance from less fuel. Solutions that help ......http://www.alcoa.com/global/en/eco_alcoa/eco_overview.asp

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Electronic-waste recycling: The cup runneth over

Leave it to Oregon. The state where recycling is practically an article of religion is having headaches with its new electronic recycling law: Way too many old TVs, computers and monitors have flooded in since the law took effect in January.

Mind you, it's a problem the state doesn't mind having. The more the better, state officials say. But the biggest manufacturers group participating in the program, the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Co., or MRM, wants to call a bit of a time-out.

Warning that e-waste will substantially exceed its state-mandated target if the stuff keeps coming in at the current rate, MRM said it will limit collections to designated network collection sites and won't reimburse for e-waste collected at special events organized by neighborhoods, church groups or county cleanup events. In addition, the company is asking collectors to limit their promotions for...... http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/greenspace/2009/05/recycling-electronic-waste-landfills.html

Thursday, June 25, 2009

E-Waste: Dark Side of Digital Age

These days, it's often cheaper and more convenient to buy a new PC than to upgrade an old one. But what happens to those old computers once they've been abandoned for newer models?

The refuse from discarded electronics products, also known as e-waste, often ends up in landfills or incinerators instead of being recycled. And that means toxic substances like lead, cadmium and
......http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2003/01/57151

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spray-on solar panels developed

read om budget minded peoples;

http://digg.com/general_sciences/Spray_on_solar_panels_developed?OTC-ig

Sunday, June 1, 2008

8 Ways to Green Your Home

8 Ways to Green Your Home


1. Clean Out Your Storage
We all have a closet or garage full of items that aren’t used anymore. An easy way to organize these areas is to group the products and decide what to do with them accordingly. Some sample groups could include electronics, household waste (paint, pesticides, motor oil) and scrap metal.

2. Recycle Smarter
Once you’ve grouped out what you want to get rid of, figure out how and where to recycle these products or donate them for reuse. Earth 911’s recycling locator at the top of this page can help. Another way to recycle smart is by closing the loop; buy items made from recycled content and with limited packaging.


3. Use Energy More Wisely
Compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) use 20 percent of the energy of incandescent bulb, and they also last 10 times as long. Keeping your thermostat at reasonable temperatures in both the winter and the summer is also a good energy saver. Finally, read your energy bill and check for trends from month to month, and ask your energy company about renewable alternatives.

4. Use Less Water
Whether it’s taking shorter showers or putting a bottle in your toilet tank, saving water is important because it is a limited resource. You can also reuse water around the house, such as using cooking water for plants (the nutrients from the food will benefit the plant).

5. Start Composting
Composting is hip again, and it’s a great way to reduce your waste and help your garden at the same time. You can include most food scraps and material like cardboard, which will biodegrade in your yard and produce nutrient-rich fertilizer. A cubic yard of compost is worth $80 in dirt costs.

6. Invest in Energy-Efficient Appliances
If you can afford it, start replacing older appliances in your home with more energy-efficient ones. These products will reduce your energy output and save money on your electricity bill. Buying a hybrid car is also an eco-friendly investment.

Start a Green Group
Plenty of green activities are meant to be a shared experience, such as carpooling. Talk to your friends about the importance of conserving, and develop programs and activities in your neighborhood for others to get involved. Students can also start a Club Earth 911 at their school.

Plant a Tree
It may seem clich├ę, but planting trees was the original carbon offset. Not only do they reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air, but they can provide shade for your home (reducing energy costs) and produce fruits that you won’t have to buy at the store.

Share your own green tips with others by commenting below. Print the list to post on your refrigerator!

This story is part of Earth 911’s “Green Eight” series, where we showcase eight ways to green your life in various areas. Click here to see Earth 911’s “Green Eight” archive.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Energy

ENERGY
2 big projects will amp up solar power in Southland


Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, at podium, announces that Southern California Edison(SCE) will build the nation's largest solar energy installation during a news conference on the roof of a ProLogis building in Fontana, Calif.
Edison plans a massive installation of photovoltaic cells on rooftops, and FPL Energy proposes a 250-megawatt plant.
By Andrea Chang, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
March 27, 2008
Solar energy is getting a big boost in Southern California with the unveiling of two projects that will be capable of generating a total of 500 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve more than 300,000 homes.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Southern California Edison plan to announce today the country's largest rooftop solar installation project ever proposed by a utility company. And on Wednesday, FPL Energy, the largest operator of solar power in the U.S., said it planned to build and operate a 250-megawatt solar plant in the Mojave Desert.

The projects would help California meet its goal of obtaining 20% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2010. In 2006, about 13% of the retail electricity delivered by Edison and the state's other two big investor-owned utilities came from renewable sources such as sun and wind, according to the California Public Utilities Commission.

Energy experts were struck by the size of the two projects, which would bolster the state's current total of about 965 megawatts of solar power flowing to the electricity grid.

"Five hundred megawatts -- that's substantial," said spokesman George Douglas of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Projects of that size begin to show that solar energy can produce electricity on a utility scale, on the kind of scale that we're going to need."

The Edison rooftop project will place photovoltaic cells on 65 million square feet of commercial building roofs in Southern California. The cells will generate as much as 250 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power about 162,500 average homes, based on the utility's estimate that one megawatt would serve about 650 average homes.

"These are the kinds of big ideas we need to meet California's long-term energy and climate change goals," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "If commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities to put this solar technology on their rooftops, it would set off a huge wave of renewable-energy growth."

The project, subject to approval by state utility regulators, will cost an estimated $875 million and take five years to complete, Edison spokesman Gil Alexander said. The utility, a subsidiary of Edison International, plans to begin installation work immediately on commercial roofs in San Bernardino and Riverside counties and spread to other locations in Southern California at a rate of one megawatt a week.

The first of the solar rooftops, which will use advanced photovoltaic generating technology, is expected to be in service by August.

"This is a breakthrough. This is hugely accelerating to a scale that is the largest in the country -- a kind of virtual solar generation facility," John E. Bryson, chairman and chief executive of Edison International, said in an interview. "It's a big deal for the state of California; it's a big deal for the renewable-energy sector."

Rosemead-based Southern California Edison provides power to 13 million people in a 50,000-square-mile area of Central and Southern California.

FPL Energy's proposed 250-megawatt plant, dubbed the Beacon Solar Energy Project, will be situated on about 2,000 acres in eastern Kern County.

More than half a million parabolic mirrors will be assembled in rows to receive and concentrate the sun's rays to produce steam for a turbine generator -- a process known as solar thermal power. The generator will produce electricity for delivery to a nearby electric grid. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2009 and will take about two years to complete, the Juno Beach, Fla.-based company said.

"At a time of rising and volatile fossil-fuel costs and increasing concerns about greenhouse gases, solar electricity can have a meaningful impact," FPL Energy President Mitch Davidson said in a statement. "We believe that solar power has similar long-term potential as wind energy, and we are well positioned to play a leading role in the growth of this renewable technology."

Longer term, the company aims to add at least 600 megawatts of new solar by 2015. FPL Energy currently has facilities with a capacity to produce 310 megawatts of solar power.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Petal to the Metal

FOR ALL THE DATA that goes into computers, many elements come out. When computers become obsolete, metals such as steel, aluminum, wire, cable and other resources can be extracted and recycled. But other more dangerous materials are also potential byproducts of electronics recovery, including toxics such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. With electronics recycling receiving increasing scrutiny, the pressure is on manufacturers and electronics recyclers to prove that they can dismantle, recycle and dispose of electronics in a responsible way.

It is precisely because of this scrutiny that Noranda Recycling Inc. recently sought ISO 14001 environmental certification for its East Providence, R.I., recovery facility; it received certification in January. The San Jose, Calif.-based company is one of the largest electronics recyclers in the world, so maintaining an environmentally sound operation is critical. “The plan is to have all five of Noranda's recycling facilities certified this year,” says Steve Skurnac, Noranda Recycling's president. “It's important for us because our customers look at ISO certification as a validation of the systems we have in place. It's an international standard, so it sells well in Europe and Asia. Having the certification speeds up the process of customer evaluation.”

Noranda's Rhode Island facility, which employs 30 people and processes about 5,500 to 7,500 tons per year of e-scrap, is just one aspect of the multifaceted company. After a corporate reorganization in 2003, Noranda Recycling says it is ready to handle the onslaught of electronics entering the waste stream every day.

E-Waste in Overdrive

According to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 2 million tons of electronic waste are buried in landfills each year. By 2005, the agency predicts that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete and require disposal. Yet in 2001, only 11 percent of personal computers retired in the United States were recycled. Computers are just the most obvious e-waste culprit; hand-held devices, cell phones and other small electronics also are piling up. In the next year, the EPA estimates that 130 million mobile phones will be discarded.

More than half of all end-of-life electronics are shipped to Asia, where environmental and technological capabilities to recycle them are limited. In February 2003, the European Commission published the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, placing financial responsibility for recycling end-of-life electronics on manufacturers. Stateside corporate responsibility programs are on the rise as well, with several computer and electronics manufacturers establishing take-back and recycling programs.

To meet the growing demand for electronics recycling, Toronto-based Noranda Inc. — an international mining and metals company — announced last summer that it had reorganized its U.S.-based recycling operations into one company, called Noranda Recycling. The new company brings together three facilities in San Jose and Roseville, Calif., and Lavergne, Tenn., that had previously been operated by Micro Metallics Corp., as well as the East Providence facility, which had been operated by Noranda Sampling Inc. The company also opened an electronics recycling facility in Brampton, Ontario, last year.

Together, the five facilities make Noranda Recycling one of the largest processors of precious metal-bearing electronic materials in North America. The new company employs about 200 people and processes between 75,000 and 170,000 tons of recyclable raw materials each year.
“Last summer, we realized that we were getting some critical mass,” Skurnac says. “We were going to have five different sites operating, so we said, ‘Let's have a new company in the states, to give our Noranda name much more branding’ … Now it's much clearer and allows us to treat all five facilities as one operation. From a business perspective, we're all in this together.”
Although they are managed under one umbrella, Noranda Recycling's five facilities have different missions. The San Jose and East Providence facilities focus on copper and precious metal recovery from electronics, telecommunications, automotive, refining and metal fabrication industries. The Brampton, Roseville and Lavergne facilities focus on end-of-life electronics recycling through partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard (HP). Noranda's newest facility in Brampton recovers a typical variety of materials — hardware, CD-ROMs, tape drives, disk drives, CD writers, modems and circuit boards.

“The two plants on the extreme coasts, the San Jose facility and the old Noranda Sampling facility [in Rhode Island], are geared around metal-bearing electronics recovery,” Skurnac explains. “If you sent them material, there's a 99 percent chance we're going to pay you for the metal contained in that material. If you send material to Roseville or Nashville or Brampton, you will be paying us to take the material.”

Playing it Safe

Noranda's operation is centered on its electronics “take-back” partnerships with HP and other manufacturers, which began at the Roseville facility in the mid-1990s. In July 2002, HP built on this relationship by launching a take-back service for Canadians to recycle unwanted computers and equipment from any manufacturer. The service includes pickup, transportation, evaluation for reuse or donation, and recycling for products ranging from printers to scanners. Noranda then provides HP and other OEMs with disassembly, product testing and metal recovery services at its Tennessee facility.

Other manufacturers may be as for ward-thinking as HP, but not as forthcoming. “We do provide a similar service to other OEMs,” Skurnac says. “It's similar in that the manufacturers manage the internal program, then we take over when it comes time to handling the material. So it's a very close relationship we have to those groups. They want to do the right thing, but not bring a lot of scrutiny to themselves.”

In 2003, the San Jose-based Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an electronics watchdog organization, and the Computer TakeBack Campaign, a similarly minded coalition, released a report that examined HP's partnership with Noranda and the Roseville facility, comparing it with a similar deal between Austin, Texas-based Dell Inc., and Washington, D.C.-based UNICOR. The report examined the partnerships based on three criteria: Transparency and accountability to the public; general compliance with occupational health and safety standards; and use of best recycling practices and their potential for wide adoption by the private sector.
The report praised the Noranda facility for allowing the coalition's industrial hygienist to inspect the facility freely and speak informally with employees. Noranda also had developed efficient warehousing systems that electronically tracked materials throughout the recycling process. Disassembly workstations were well-lit, ergonomically designed and computerized, with each workbench equipped with a hand-held device to scan and retrieve information about the equipment to be salvaged, the report stated.

Safety also was paramount in the Roseville facility, according to the report. Chairs and tabletops could be adjusted for worker comfort, and motorized pallet jackets and forklifts were used to avoid worker injury. Workers were encouraged to provide feedback on product design and to suggest alternative tools to improve safety and efficiency. Additionally, brooms were removed from the facility and replaced with vacuum cleaners to control dust, which can contain lead, flame retardants and other toxins from computer dismantling and shredding operations.
The report concluded that the Noranda facility “demonstrated characteristics that other electronic waste managers and policy decision makers might emulate as they begin to develop recycling programs.”

These characteristics include:

Eliminating tools, such as hammers, that cause injury and health hazards;
Developing efficient warehousing systems that electronically track materials through the recycling process;

Installing mechanized systems, such as crushers, that reduce worker exposure to toxics;
Developing work stations designed to reduce ergonomic hazards;

Developing a database that allows workers to access information on hazardous materials; and
Providing non-management representation on the company's health and safety committee.

“It was a good experience to visit a work site where there appears to be a significant investment in occupational and environmental health and safety,” the lead investigator wrote.

Minding the Market

In the United States, electronics “recyclers” have been widely criticized for sending obsolete high-tech trash to Asia, where unsafe dismantling systems pose threats to Asian workers and the environment. “There are two key things that pop up in this business,” Skurnac says. “One relates to recycling operators and this whole notion of environmentally sound management of the equipment. We make the point that, if you call yourself an electronics recycler, make sure that you are not just brokering material to destinations unknown. And if you're a company who's disposing of the material, make sure you know where it's going. Any reputable recycling company can give you that information.”

In the meantime, Noranda and other recyclers are facing new electronics legislation. Dozens of states have passed or are considering bills to legislate the disposal and recycling of electronic waste. Some states have instituted landfill bans on certain electronics or have created fees to support funds for electronics recycling. Congress is considering national electronics legislation and in March, the EPA announced a pilot project to measure the economic impacts of environmentally sound electronics management. “If you're going to be in electronics recycling,” Skurnac says, “you better be willing to be involved in public policy.”

In the midst of this highly charged and increasingly regulated sector, North American recyclers are still dealing with the widespread export of scrap to China. “The commodity metal markets have improved, but that has less of an impact on our business than people think,” Skurnac says. “We're buying raw material. So if the price of gold goes up, the customer expects to be paid more. What it might do is drive material to us that wasn't worth recycling before. You might make the argument that there's more material in the marketplace. But with China buying every bit of scrap material, it hasn't made it easier for Noranda or anyone to source raw material.”
In fact, Noranda was able to open its Brampton facility in part because another electronics recycler could not compete in a difficult marketplace. “We basically stepped in and bought all of their equipment, and we went out and acquired a brand new building,” Skurnac says. Today, he reports that volumes in Canada are substantially higher than the company originally had anticipated.

Skurnac is confident that the electronics recycling business will grow. New legislation in Europe and elsewhere is likely to send more materials to Noranda's facilities, which could easily accept increased feedstock, he says. “Hopefully, a year from now we'll have more plants or the ones we have will be so busy we won't know what to do with ourselves. We think there are market opportunities for growth, and we plan to be a part of that.”

Kim A. O'Connell is a contributing editor based in Arlington, Va.

WasteExpo Watch

Petal to the Metal

FOR ALL THE DATA that goes into computers, many elements come out. When computers become obsolete, metals such as steel, aluminum, wire, cable and other resources can be extracted and recycled. But other more dangerous materials are also potential byproducts of electronics recovery, including toxics such as lead, mercury, arsenic and cadmium. With electronics recycling receiving increasing scrutiny, the pressure is on manufacturers and electronics recyclers to prove that they can dismantle, recycle and dispose of electronics in a responsible way.


It is precisely because of this scrutiny that Noranda Recycling Inc. recently sought ISO 14001 environmental certification for its East Providence, R.I., recovery facility; it received certification in January. The San Jose, Calif.-based company is one of the largest electronics recyclers in the world, so maintaining an environmentally sound operation is critical. “The plan is to have all five of Noranda's recycling facilities certified this year,” says Steve Skurnac, Noranda Recycling's president. “It's important for us because our customers look at ISO certification as a validation of the systems we have in place. It's an international standard, so it sells well in Europe and Asia. Having the certification speeds up the process of customer evaluation.”


Noranda's Rhode Island facility, which employs 30 people and processes about 5,500 to 7,500 tons per year of e-scrap, is just one aspect of the multifaceted company. After a corporate reorganization in 2003, Noranda Recycling says it is ready to handle the onslaught of electronics entering the waste stream every day.


E-Waste in Overdrive


According to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), more than 2 million tons of electronic waste are buried in landfills each year. By 2005, the agency predicts that nearly 250 million computers will become obsolete and require disposal. Yet in 2001, only 11 percent of personal computers retired in the United States were recycled. Computers are just the most obvious e-waste culprit; hand-held devices, cell phones and other small electronics also are piling up. In the next year, the EPA estimates that 130 million mobile phones will be discarded.


More than half of all end-of-life electronics are shipped to Asia, where environmental and technological capabilities to recycle them are limited. In February 2003, the European Commission published the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, placing financial responsibility for recycling end-of-life electronics on manufacturers. Stateside corporate responsibility programs are on the rise as well, with several computer and electronics manufacturers establishing take-back and recycling programs.


To meet the growing demand for electronics recycling, Toronto-based Noranda Inc. — an international mining and metals company — announced last summer that it had reorganized its U.S.-based recycling operations into one company, called Noranda Recycling. The new company brings together three facilities in San Jose and Roseville, Calif., and Lavergne, Tenn., that had previously been operated by Micro Metallics Corp., as well as the East Providence facility, which had been operated by Noranda Sampling Inc. The company also opened an electronics recycling facility in Brampton, Ontario, last year.


Together, the five facilities make Noranda Recycling one of the largest processors of precious metal-bearing electronic materials in North America. The new company employs about 200 people and processes between 75,000 and 170,000 tons of recyclable raw materials each year.
“Last summer, we realized that we were getting some critical mass,” Skurnac says. “We were going to have five different sites operating, so we said, ‘Let's have a new company in the states, to give our Noranda name much more branding’ … Now it's much clearer and allows us to treat all five facilities as one operation. From a business perspective, we're all in this together.”
Although they are managed under one umbrella, Noranda Recycling's five facilities have different missions. The San Jose and East Providence facilities focus on copper and precious metal recovery from electronics, telecommunications, automotive, refining and metal fabrication industries. The Brampton, Roseville and Lavergne facilities focus on end-of-life electronics recycling through partnerships with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) such as Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard (HP). Noranda's newest facility in Brampton recovers a typical variety of materials — hardware, CD-ROMs, tape drives, disk drives, CD writers, modems and circuit boards.


“The two plants on the extreme coasts, the San Jose facility and the old Noranda Sampling facility [in Rhode Island], are geared around metal-bearing electronics recovery,” Skurnac explains. “If you sent them material, there's a 99 percent chance we're going to pay you for the metal contained in that material. If you send material to Roseville or Nashville or Brampton, you will be paying us to take the material.”


Playing it Safe


Noranda's operation is centered on its electronics “take-back” partnerships with HP and other manufacturers, which began at the Roseville facility in the mid-1990s. In July 2002, HP built on this relationship by launching a take-back service for Canadians to recycle unwanted computers and equipment from any manufacturer. The service includes pickup, transportation, evaluation for reuse or donation, and recycling for products ranging from printers to scanners. Noranda then provides HP and other OEMs with disassembly, product testing and metal recovery services at its Tennessee facility.


Other manufacturers may be as for ward-thinking as HP, but not as forthcoming. “We do provide a similar service to other OEMs,” Skurnac says. “It's similar in that the manufacturers manage the internal program, then we take over when it comes time to handling the material. So it's a very close relationship we have to those groups. They want to do the right thing, but not bring a lot of scrutiny to themselves.”


In 2003, the San Jose-based Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, an electronics watchdog organization, and the Computer TakeBack Campaign, a similarly minded coalition, released a report that examined HP's partnership with Noranda and the Roseville facility, comparing it with a similar deal between Austin, Texas-based Dell Inc., and Washington, D.C.-based UNICOR. The report examined the partnerships based on three criteria: Transparency and accountability to the public; general compliance with occupational health and safety standards; and use of best recycling practices and their potential for wide adoption by the private sector.
The report praised the Noranda facility for allowing the coalition's industrial hygienist to inspect the facility freely and speak informally with employees. Noranda also had developed efficient warehousing systems that electronically tracked materials throughout the recycling process. Disassembly workstations were well-lit, ergonomically designed and computerized, with each workbench equipped with a hand-held device to scan and retrieve information about the equipment to be salvaged, the report stated.


Safety also was paramount in the Roseville facility, according to the report. Chairs and tabletops could be adjusted for worker comfort, and motorized pallet jackets and forklifts were used to avoid worker injury. Workers were encouraged to provide feedback on product design and to suggest alternative tools to improve safety and efficiency. Additionally, brooms were removed from the facility and replaced with vacuum cleaners to control dust, which can contain lead, flame retardants and other toxins from computer dismantling and shredding operations.
The report concluded that the Noranda facility “demonstrated characteristics that other electronic waste managers and policy decision makers might emulate as they begin to develop recycling programs.”


These characteristics include:


Eliminating tools, such as hammers, that cause injury and health hazards;
Developing efficient warehousing systems that electronically track materials through the recycling process;


Installing mechanized systems, such as crushers, that reduce worker exposure to toxics;
Developing work stations designed to reduce ergonomic hazards;


Developing a database that allows workers to access information on hazardous materials; and
Providing non-management representation on the company's health and safety committee.


“It was a good experience to visit a work site where there appears to be a significant investment in occupational and environmental health and safety,” the lead investigator wrote.


Minding the Market


In the United States, electronics “recyclers” have been widely criticized for sending obsolete high-tech trash to Asia, where unsafe dismantling systems pose threats to Asian workers and the environment. “There are two key things that pop up in this business,” Skurnac says. “One relates to recycling operators and this whole notion of environmentally sound management of the equipment. We make the point that, if you call yourself an electronics recycler, make sure that you are not just brokering material to destinations unknown. And if you're a company who's disposing of the material, make sure you know where it's going. Any reputable recycling company can give you that information.”


In the meantime, Noranda and other recyclers are facing new electronics legislation. Dozens of states have passed or are considering bills to legislate the disposal and recycling of electronic waste. Some states have instituted landfill bans on certain electronics or have created fees to support funds for electronics recycling. Congress is considering national electronics legislation and in March, the EPA announced a pilot project to measure the economic impacts of environmentally sound electronics management. “If you're going to be in electronics recycling,” Skurnac says, “you better be willing to be involved in public policy.”


In the midst of this highly charged and increasingly regulated sector, North American recyclers are still dealing with the widespread export of scrap to China. “The commodity metal markets have improved, but that has less of an impact on our business than people think,” Skurnac says. “We're buying raw material. So if the price of gold goes up, the customer expects to be paid more. What it might do is drive material to us that wasn't worth recycling before. You might make the argument that there's more material in the marketplace. But with China buying every bit of scrap material, it hasn't made it easier for Noranda or anyone to source raw material.”
In fact, Noranda was able to open its Brampton facility in part because another electronics recycler could not compete in a difficult marketplace. “We basically stepped in and bought all of their equipment, and we went out and acquired a brand new building,” Skurnac says. Today, he reports that volumes in Canada are substantially higher than the company originally had anticipated.


Skurnac is confident that the electronics recycling business will grow. New legislation in Europe and elsewhere is likely to send more materials to Noranda's facilities, which could easily accept increased feedstock, he says. “Hopefully, a year from now we'll have more plants or the ones we have will be so busy we won't know what to do with ourselves. We think there are market opportunities for growth, and we plan to be a part of that.”


Kim A. O'Connell is a contributing editor based in Arlington, Va.


WasteExpo Watch


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