Dec. 31, 2014
With the new year upon us, E-Scrap Newsrecaps a busy 2014 news cycle that saw CRT glass management issues take center stage alongside legislative battles and some surprising industry twists and turns.
In January, talk of a national billlimiting e-scrap exports was quelled after remarks made by Rep. John Shimkus. In a meeting with the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Shimkus stated the proposed legislation, known as RERA, was not on his subcommittee’s agenda for 2014. That development was celebrated by ISRI, a powerful opponent of the legislation, while the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling pledged to fight on.
On the heels of an announcement by Sims Recycling Solutions that 12 of its 14 North American facilities had become dual-certified to the e-Stewards and R2 standards, E-Scrap Newstook a look at the growing dual-certification trend. Research found more than 70 percent of firms certified to e-Stewards also held the R2 certification. John Shegerian, the CEO of Electronic Recyclers International, told the magazine dual certification was a simple matter of client demand. “So many clients wanted R2 and so many clients wanted e-Stewards, so we said we’re just going to do both.”
Based on the findings of an extensive telephone survey, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) released data on remaining U.S. CRT tonnages. While about half as high as a previous estimate by recycling firm Kuusakoski, the CEA figure suggested roughly 3.5 million tons of CRT TVs and computer monitors could be found in American closets, basements and living rooms. “There are still a lot of CRTs out there. … Six billion pounds of CRT TVs and 1 billion pounds of CRT monitors,” Walter Alcorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs, said at the time. “But it’s not infinite. This too shall pass, in terms of the CRT stream.”
A former e-Stewards and R2-certified firm found itself in hot water this past March after leaving behind a significant stockpile of CRT glass at its closed Cincinnati site. After closing in 2013, 2trg sold its assets to publicly traded E-Waste Systems (EWSI) and claimed EWSI was also responsible for the glass on site. EWSI denied those claims but eventually participated in an effort to clean up the site. EWSI, the subject of a feature in the June 2014 print edition of E-Scrap News, would later be evicted from its own Ohio location in late 2014.
Creative Recycling Systems announced in May it would be closing its central processing facility in Tampa, Florida. The announcement was followed by rapid closuresof Creative properties throughout the country as the firm battled an $18.7 million lawsuit against it by Regions Bank. Creative filed for bankruptcy and looked for a potential buyer, but on Dec. 16 of 2014 announced it would aim to liquify its remaining assets.
After closing facilities in Dallas and New Jersey, Sims Recycling Solutions (SRS) formulated a major restructuring of its Canadian and U.K. operations. The company said it was closing all Canadian operations and substantially reducing its U.K. activity. While competition was cited as a major challenge in the U.K., Sims argued original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in Canada had formed a “virtual monopoly organization” that forced the firm out of the region.
In a victory for reuse advocates in the industry, Congress passed a phone unlocking bill in late July to overturn a 2012 decision by the Librarian of Congress that essentially made unlockings illegal. By making both individual and bulk unlockings legal again, Congress opened the door for the industry to bypass wireless carriers and free devices to be resold and reused worldwide. The victory, however, has the potential to be short-lived, as the Librarian of Congress has the power in 2015 to again review the reach of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act and determine whether unlockings should be legal or illegal.
Though much of 2014 was defined by CRT management struggles, a note of hope was sounded in late summer. Reporting on the state electronics recycling program in Washington showed e-scrap tonnages collected in the Evergreen State were on the decline year-over-year, an indication thatfewer CRT devices were being handed in by residents. Some industry observers said the numbers may be a sign that U.S. CRT volumes could be close to plateauing.
The developing world’s informal processing sector was a focal point of analysis and discussion at the Electronics Recycling Asia Conference, held in Singapore in Asia. Speakers from government groups, recycling firms and nonprofit organizations all touched on strategies to help transform processing conditions in poorer areas but noted existing structures should be developed, not eradicated altogether.
By Editorial Staff, E-Scrap News