Sponsored by Oregon Business

Recyclers say e-waste law won't mean profit

| Print |  Email
Archives - March 2009
Sunday, March 01, 2009


STATEWIDE Oregon's new electronic waste law has recyclers bracing for a surge in e-waste this year. But the recession and a plunge in commodity prices could turn the law's first year into a bitter pill for the state's recycling industry.

State legislators unanimously passed a bill in 2007 that requires electronic manufacturers that do business in the state to pay into a state-administered program, or participate in a manufacturer-created program, that reimburses collectors and recyclers of toxic e-waste such as televisions and computer monitors. The law, which went into effect on Jan. 1, prohibits recyclers from participating in the program to charge customers disposal fees for up to seven items.

"[The law is] definitely going to increase volume," says Andy Sloop, general manager of Portland-based Total Reclaim, an e-waste collector and processor. Free Geek in Portland, a nonprofit that collects and refurbishes used computers, took in 4% more used computers when the law took effect in January than it had in December.

ECS Regenesys, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based e-waste collector and processor with an office in Medford, says they've hired three people in Oregon to help with the extra workload.

But while an increase in volume typically means a boon to recyclers looking to extract precious metals and other valuable materials from e-waste, recyclers say the current reimbursement rate from the programs leaves no room for profit. They argue the current rate was set when commodity prices were soaring last year before the economic downturn, and now they are locked in until the next annual contracts are renegotiated.

"The cost of the program was heavily subsidized by the foreign commodity market," says Curt Spivey, a vice president at ECS Regenesys in Medford.

As a result, rates for individual customers and businesses looking to get rid of more than seven electronic items must be raised, says Spivey.

Even so, collectors and recyclers acknowledge the law benefits the environment and sets important industry standards. Proponents also say the law helps small businesses cut costs by offloading their dust-collecting gadgets for free.

Environmental groups such as the Association of Oregon Recyclers say the law is an effective way to prevent toxic electronic waste from entering the state's landfills.           


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

Adjusting to the New Economy

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

A conversation with Jonathan Bennett, managing partner at law firm Dunn Carney Allen Higgins & Tongue.


The Cover Story

The Latest
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
100515-cover1015-news-thumbBY CHRIS NOBLE

As we worked on the October cover, it became evident that Nick Symmonds is a hard man to catch — even when he’s not hotfooting it around a track.


Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


5 questions for ImpactFlow CEO Tyler Foreman

The Latest
Thursday, August 13, 2015

Portland-based startup ImpactFlow recently announced a $5.7 million funding round. CEO and co-founder Tyler Foreman talks about matching businesses with nonprofits, his time at Intel and the changing face of philanthropy.


After the Orange Line

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
090815-trimet-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Alan Lehto, TriMet's director of policy & planning, shares a few thoughts on ride sharing and more nimble bus services.


Counterpoint: CLT not as green as people think

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
photo-flickr-glasseyes viewthymbBY GREGG LEWIS | OP-ED

The issue of green-washing remains a significant challenge to those of us who would like to see the building sector in this country do more than make unverifiable claims of sustainability. Transparency about the impacts of a given material is the only way to allow designers to make intelligent choices when selecting building products.


Inside the Box

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02