> James Kao
> The Growing E-Waste Crisis
>James Kao is the founder, president and CEO of Palo Alto-based
>GreenCitizen, Inc., an innovator in the responsible recovery,
>and accountability of end-of-life electronics. He is an
>with a successful track record of delivering results in startup and
>500 environments. Over the course of his career, Kao has raised over
>$24 million of funding to support several startup companies
>Managize, a supply chain management company later sold to Escalate,
>Inc., and eALITY, a business process enterprise software firm.
>held management positions with Oracle, HP and IBM.
>Every year, an estimated 400 million units of obsolete electronics
>scrapped; this figure will rise to three billion units by 2010.
>in technology continue to improve and enrich our lives, shorter
>lifecycles mean an increasing stockpile of end-of-life equipment
>to be managed. When discarded, much of this equipment ends up in
>landfills in the US, or is exported to third world countries.
This is a global
>problem and it's enormous: from collection, to responsible
>to finding new uses of the recycled materials, to inventing new
>materials that do not deplete the Earth's resources or cause toxic
>Before founding GreenCitizen, Kao traveled around the world for
>investigating the e-waste crisis. He attended the Basel
>Conference, discussed best practices with European Union top
>scientists, visited facilities in the US and Taiwan, and learned
>Japan's and Korea's collection systems work. He brings his
>global best practices to bear on the situation in the US and will
>about his vision for how government, enterprise and individuals
>must--take a shared approach to solving this problem.
James Kao began his talk by explaining that he had studied the e-waste
problem on a hobby basis for years before opening the doors to
GreenCitizen. He described the highly advanced system in Germany,
where every manufacturer has to take responsibility for the end of life
disposal of every product they make via the retailers that sell it and
take it back for them. Then he talked about South Korea, where the
three biggest electronics manufacturers divided up the country into
three districts, and each of them is responsible for recycling in one
of those. When he described the toxic mess that is China's electronic
scavenging system based on imported e-waste from places like here, he
said "there needs to be more accountability in the system."
GreenCitizen opened it's doors on Earth Day this year. The recycling
services the place provides are based on four pillar: convenience,
accountability, savings, and safety. For convenience, they are open
seven days a week, starting at 11 AM at 3180 Park Blvd., right behind
Fry's. You can drop off your old box and pick up a new one on the same
trip. Businesses can also get stuff picked up. Accountability is
emphasized throughout the GreenCitizen organization. Ask at the center
and they will provide detailed explanations of where the pieces of your
recycled electronics go. Nothing is wasted, and all of it goes to
reputable vendors that mine it thoroughly for reusable components. For
savings, GreenCitizen has competitive prices, and they will take
California-sourced CRT monitors (such as TV sets or computer monitors)
and laptops at no charge. Everybody's safety is enhanced when
e-waste is recycled instead of dropped into a landfill to drip toxins
into the water table.
A typical customer will drop by the first time and learn about the
place, maybe because they were on their way to Fry's Electronics or
whatever. They will gather information and maybe take some fliers. On
the second visit that person will bring in a dead TV or something like
that. Then they sometimes come back a few months later with a truckload
of old electronics from the garage.
GreenCitizen is looking for ways to bring the competitive power of the
American marketplace to bear on the recycling stream. It starts with
looking at solutions like offering "green-minded" companies
advertising opportunities in customer receipts, or things like the
convenient storage boxes GreenCitizen will sell for people to use
to collect batteries and used CDs for recycling. For now GreenCitizen,
is still a small company with one location, but as they grow they will
look at what opportunities their size allows to create more jobs.
During Q&A a number of interesting points came up:
The oldest electronics GreenCitizen takes in have "MADE IN USA" on
them. Slightly newer electronics were often made in Japan, then newer
things were made in Singapore, and the newest of all came from China.
In Switzerland they have machines that can disassemble cell phones by
recognizing the model, looking up the instructions for taking it apart
from a database, and then using robot arms to do the work. In most of
the world, human labor is cheap enough that such machines make no
sense. In China you can get a lot of things taken apart cheaply when
labor is seventy cents a day. The trick in dealing with China is
finding vendors to work with who will honor decent labor and
There are about 4 lbs. of lead in an average CRT, and quite a bit of
gold, copper, and other metals on PC boards.
For more information please visit:
I got this link to an article after I posted the above:
GAO to Study National Plan to Recycle Computers
>From: InformationWeek - 07/27/2005
>By: Eric Chabrow
>The increasing volume of used electronics will be
harmful to human health and the
>environment unless properly managed, John Stephenson of
the Government Accountability
>Office (GAO) told a Senate panel on July 26; he cited
EPA estimates that less than 6
>million computers out of roughly 50 million units that
became obsolete in 2003 were
>recycled. E-waste recycling suffers from inconvenience,
high costs, and a lack of federal
>standards, and Stephenson quoted a 2003 report from the
International Association of
>Electronics Recyclers indicating that the costs
associated with recycling are higher than
>the revenue received from reselling recycled goods.
Although the GAO did not suggest
>any remedial actions, it did promise to more deeply
probe the situation and present
>recommendations at a later time, and Stephenson implied
that his office would seriously
>consider a national recycling strategy. "It is becoming
clear, though, that in the absence
>of a national approach, a patchwork of potentially
conflicting state requirements is
>developing, and that this patchwork may be placing a
substantial burden on recyclers,
>refurbishers, and other stakeholders," he noted.
Stephenson pointed to a United Nations
>University study concluding that up to 80 percent of the
energy spent throughout the
>course of a computer's life can be conserved via reuse.
In addition, he cited U.S.
>Geological Survey estimates that 40 to 800 times the
concentration of gold in gold ore
>and 30 to 40 times the concentration of copper can be
extracted from one metric ton
>of computer circuit boards.
>Read the entire article at: