Showing posts with label Yahoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yahoo. Show all posts

Friday, November 21, 2008

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption


Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Phone Makers Monitor Charger Energy Consumption

Mobile manufacturers launch star rating system comparing the energy consumption of chargers


November 19, 2008 - Espoo, Finland - A group of mobile manufacturers has launched a common energy rating system for chargers, making it easier for consumers to compare and choose the one that saves the most energy. The star rating system developed and supported by LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Sony Ericsson is one of a series of measures being taken by the industry to reduce the environmental footprint of its products.

Many consumers are unaware that chargers consume electricity when disconnected from the phone but left plugged into the wall socket. Around two thirds of the energy used by mobile devices is wasted in this way. Manufacturers are addressing this by continually improving the efficiency of their chargers and in making it easier for consumers to pick the ones using the least energy.

The new rating system indicates how much energy each charger uses when left plugged into the wall socket after charging is completed. The ratings covers all chargers currently sold by the five companies, and range from five stars for the most efficient chargers down to zero stars for the ones consuming the most energy. If the more than three billion people owning mobile devices today switched to a four or five star charger, this could save the same amount of energy each year as produced by two medium sized power plants.

People will be able to visit the websites of each manufacturer to view and compare the results for every charger. The ratings are based on the European Commission's energy standards for chargers and the internationally recognized Energy Star standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. The ratings will be reviewed regularly and developed further in order to drive constant improvement.

Many of the manufacturers are also working on other ways to reduce energy consumption. Most major producers have begun introducing visual alerts into their devices to remind people to unplug the charger from the mains when the battery is fully charged.

The group of manufacturers was initially created as part of a European Commission Integrated Product Policy pilot project looking at how different industries could reduce the environmental impact of their products and inform consumers of better choices. Nokia proposed the mobile phone sector to the Commission and was joined by a number of manufacturers, operators and others in the industry.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Plastics

Plastic recycling affects a range of products, from drink containers to shopping bags to pipes. Plastic is almost always the product of petroleum, a non-renewable resource. This makes recycling plastic even more important.

Curbside programs often make recycling plastic containers easier than other plastic products. You’ll likely be unable to recycle plastic bags, packaging and Styrofoam at the curb. This material is very recyclable at a qualified center; use Earth 911’s recycling locator to find one.

Some plastics are part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not.

To know the best way to recycle these products, let’s learn more about their lifecycles including where they are used, tips to recycle them and what happens to them next.

Plastic Bottles
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?



Plastic Bags
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?



PVC
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?



Plastic Packaging
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?



Plastic Casing
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next?

Styrofoam
Facts • Benefits of recycling • Tips on recycling • How it gets recycled • What’s next

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ID Theft

Notification Laws Doesn't Slow Identity Theft


In 2003, California's SB 1386 went into law. The law required businesses that suffered data breaches to disclose the breach to all those exposed. The idea was that notifying people would reduce identity theft. Over the last five years, 42 other states had enacted similar laws. But have these laws had an impact on the rates of identity theft?

According to a study conducted by Carnegie Mellon University the answer is no. Researches could find not statistical link between the breach notification laws and rates of identity theft.

The conclusion matches what I would expect. Data breaches are not the same as data thefts. A data breach is most likely just an error and the data usually ends up in the trash. A data theft is the result of a deliberate act where the data is most likely being used for nefarious purposes.

Laws should allow some flexibility for a business to alert consumers when a real theft occurs but doesn't raise an undue scare for a lost tape that can only be read by a few machines.

Read More.

Friday, May 16, 2008

How to Escape From a Black Hole

Written by Nancy Atkinson

According to Einstein's theory of general relativity, black holes are regions of space where gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. And in the 1970's physicist Stephen Hawking asserted that any information sucked inside a black hole would be permanently lost. But now, researchers at Penn State have shown that information can be recovered from black holes.

A fundamental part of quantum physics is that information cannot be lost, so Hawking's claim has been debated. His idea was generally accepted by physicists until the late 1990s, when many began to doubt the assertion. Even Hawking himself renounced the idea in 2004. Yet no one, until now, has been able to provide a plausible mechanism for how information might escape from a black hole. A team of physicists led by Abhay Ashtekar, say their findings expand space-time beyond its assumed size, providing room for information to reappear.

Ashtekar used an analogy from Alice in Wonderland: "When the Cheshire cat disappears, his grin remains," he said. "We used to think it was the same way with black holes. Hawking's analysis suggested that at the end of a black hole's life, even after it has completely evaporated away, a singularity, or a final edge to space-time, is left behind, and this singularity serves as a sink for unrecoverable information."

But the Penn State team suggest that singularities do not exist in the real world. "Information only appears to be lost because we have been looking at a restricted part of the true quantum-mechanical space-time," said Ashtekar. "Once you consider quantum gravity, then space-time becomes much larger and there is room for information to reappear in the distant future on the other side of what was first thought to be the end of space-time."

According to Ashtekar, space-time is not a continuum as physicists once believed. Instead, it is made up of individual building blocks, just as a piece of fabric, though it appears to be continuous, is made up of individual threads. "Once we realized that the notion of space-time as a continuum is only an approximation of reality, it became clear to us that singularities are merely artifacts of our insistence that space-time should be described as a continuum."

To conduct their studies, the team used a two-dimensional model of black holes to investigate the quantum nature of real black holes, which exist in four dimensions. That's because two-dimensional systems are simpler to study mathematically. But because of the close similarities between two-dimensional black holes and spherical four-dimensional black holes, the team believes that this approach is a general mechanism that can be applied in four dimensions. The group now is pursuing methods for directly studying four-dimensional black holes.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Recycling Advocate - April 16, 2008 - Volume 13, Number 3


Bottle Bill Expansion Advances

CAW sponsored legislation that aims to update the state's Bottle and Can Recycling Law by expanding the program to include all plastic bottles among other measures, passed out of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee 5-2. SB 1625 (Corbett) now heads to the Appropriations Committee.

Toughest Plastic Bag Reduction Measure in Nation Moves Out of Committee

CAW sponsored AB 2058 (Levine) passed out of Assembly Natural Resources committee April 14 with a 5-3 vote. The bill will require retailers to meet a tough plastic bag diversion mandate--as high as 70%--if they wish to continue freely distributing plastic bags. If the benchmark is not met, retailers will only be able to hand out bags if they charge a fee of not less than 15 cents. A similar approach has reduced plastic bag consumption in Ireland by over 90%.

Other CAW Bills Pass Out of Committees

CAW sponsored AB 2505 (Brownley) passed out of Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee April 15. The bill proposes to phase out the use of PVC resin in certain consumer packaging. Consumer packaging represents the largest segment of PVC in the solid waste stream, as it is virtually non-recyclable. PVC consumer packaging also presents a human health threat as it can contain high levels of phthalates and heavy metals, and is a costly and potent contaminant in the recycling stream of other, non-toxic alternative plastics.

AB 2640 (Huffman) passed out of the Assembly Natural Resources Committee April 14 with a 5-3 vote. The bill will assist in reaching the CIWMB's goal to divert 50% of organics from landfills by 2020 by creating a program to support and handle this organic waste. AB 2640 will next be heard in the Appropriations Committee.

Vote in our Poll! Question: Plastic bags cost $250/household in retail costs and taxes. What fee level will motivate consumers to bring their own bag?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

New York City

Mar 13 - New York City Council Replaces E-waste Bill with Two New Bills

The New York City Council yesterday recalled the e-waste legislation they passed last month and has replaced it with two new bills. The change comes after Mayor Bloomberg threatened to veto the first bill. The two bills split up the first bill with one requiring electronics manufacturers to collect and recycling their used and unwanted products and the other focusing on mandatory collection goals to be met. The latter was what the Mayor was mostly opposed to that led to the splitting of the original bill. So instead of having the entire bill be vetoed, the City Council split up the bill and still hopes to be the first city in the country with an e-waste recycling bill.

Read a New York Times article.

What You Can Do

Learn more about California's e-waste legislation.
Find a place to recycling your unwanted electronics.

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


HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles

http://www.ewastedisposal.net