Geared Up For Restrictions

Posted on Sep 1, 2010 :: Green Business
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of ProSolutions

While more New North businesses are taking seriously their responsibilities to reduce and recycle their own waste materials, thousands of tons of resources are lost each year when people place items in the trash that should be recycled, according to the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin.
The state Electronics Recycling Bill, which took effect Sept. 1, prohibits landfilling or incinerating electronic devices. (See “Recycling law kicks in” page 59.) Here are examples of three companies and how they help their customers recycle.

RecycleThatStuff.com:
Taking used stuff by the pound

RecycleThatStuff.com, founded in Madison in 1988, expanded to the Fox Valley five years ago with a facility in Greenville. The company relocated to Linwood Avenue in Appleton in June. It serves business and residential customers’ needs for computer, electronics and scrap metal recycling.
Customers pay a minimum fee for electronics – typically by the pound – and RecycleThatStuff recycles the materials for their metals, glass and plastics, in compliance with state, federal and international regulations. The company guarantees that the components will not be landfilled. Because of its value, the company actually pays for quantities of scrap metal.

RecycleThatStuff expects to see an upturn in residential electronics recycling this fall because of the new recycling law.

“We’ve already seen an increase in the number of people who have come to the town cleanup events that local communities have sponsored,” says Lora Boeger-Spreeman, president of RecycleThatStuff.com. “We’re doing what we can to minimize the flow of waste. Most people don’t realize that they can recycle about 90 percent of what’s in their households.”

ProSolutions: Separating materials

Green Bay’s ProSolutions is a division of N.E.W. Curative Rehabilitation, a not-for-profit that helps people with disabilities and other challenges achieve their goals for independence. ProSolutions has typically provided packaging, shrink-wrapping, kitting, assembly and similar services to Green Bay-area businesses as pre-vocational training and employment for its clients.
Within the past year, however, ProSolutions has uncovered a new service that reduces landfilled waste, eliminates disposal costs for its business customers and increases revenue for its own operation.

“As we talked with some of these businesses, we discovered that they had relatively small quantities of cardboard, plastic banding and plastic wrap that they were taking to the landfill,” says Eric Gerarden, general manager at ProSolutions.
“We offered to take that from them and aggregate it into quantities that could be sold to recycling sources. That saves our customers the costs of going to the landfill, keeps a significant quantity of recyclable materials from ending up there and provides income to our agency to fund our valuable programs.”

ProSolutions applied its knowledge of recycling to its own operations first.
“By looking carefully at our waste stream and by combining our waste with that of other businesses, we were able to go from three compactor pulls per month to about one-half each month. That, in itself, saves us about $14,000 per year,” adds Gerarden.

“Then, we focused on our customers in manufacturing, meat packing and cheese processing. And now the demand is becoming so great we can hardly keep up. We’ve been successful in finding homes for materials that, traditionally, we haven’t been able to.”

Gerarden cites one relationship with a box company that is a supplier to Wal-Mart, which has supplier requirements for sustainability these days, as well as for serving the community. “By partnering with us, our customer can impact two of the requirements at once,” he says.

Camera Corner/Connecting Point:
Solutions for electronic trash

Kevin Regalia, manager of service and facilities and a shareholder of Camera Corner/Connecting Point in Green Bay, says the company provides business and individual customers with recycling services. “We’ve actually been helping our customers appropriately recycle their outdated electronics for six or seven years now,” he says. “We take great care to ensure nothing goes to the landfill. The usable items we provide to a local technician who cleans and refurbishes them. Otherwise, we disassemble them and sell them as scrap metal. We even have two artists who come in regularly to pick up computer parts and other odds and ends to use in their art, which they sell at local art fairs. Everyone should be doing this,” Regalia says. “We’re all stewards of this planet.”