227 Pond Lane, Middlebury, VT
Five truck operation
Outside our new plant
This is the largest room of our new 50,000 s.f. warehouse in Middlebury, Vermont. We originally planned on using just half of the facility, but took over the whole plant in 2009.
We have 5 trucks and 12 trailers and collect from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island as well as Vermont.
Computer monitors are tested for whether they meet one of 6 different purchase orders, ranging from demanufacturing to Grade A working monitors.
We have two forklifts and 3 plant foremen authorized to drive them.
Jobs from assembly, jobs from disassembly. It's the same job in reverse, just a little more green.
30% of the weight = 99% of expenses
If not screen burned or damaged, these can still be sold for a couple of dollars, but the market is falling fast.
CRT glass, while unbroken, is stored in more expensive nylon supersack liners
Our loading dock is busy!
We now have several departments - sorting, demanufacturing, testing, grading, etc. under one roof.
Typical load from a municipality
TVs sorted by Brand and municipal collection point
CPUs are graded for hard drive wiping or demanufacturing. The newer the PC, the faster we wipe it. We are organized to wipe or destroy everything at our normal rate, and prioritize by value (the more valuable the PC or laptop, the more likely it is to disappear). Some clients pay an extra fee for immediate HD destruction and chain of custody (from truck driver to destruction).
Good TVs packed up for Peru
The demanufacturing area tears down P2s and older, as well as scavenged and tested-bad computers.
These screws would have taken less time in demanufacture if they hadn't been made with 100 different screw head designs! This represents a LOT of hours.
We are training staff to do the same work at Retroworks de Mexico.
The proof of what we do is in the hours of staff we pay and the weights of the scrap they took apart.
We earn revenue for aluminum, copper, steel, plastic, and circuit boards full of gold, paladium, and rhodium. Too bad those metals are all attached by screws.
Baled steel housings from computer demanufacturing
Our monitor grading operation has been subcontracted by several larger e-scrap companies. We track everything, and record the entire end of life chain of custody. We visit our end markets, film them, and constantly respond to quality specifications.
We salvage parts like RAM, ATX power supplies, floppy drives...
It takes a lot of employee hours to get this much fine wire. Recycling creates jobs.
Some staff start in demanufacturing, working with hammers and screws, are later "promoted" to putting good ones back together, and graduate to selling stuff on ebay.
A second baler is used for plastic
We have never had a scrap load rejected, our boards and drives are the cleanest sort in the business.
Mexican staff cross-train in Vermont, Vermont staff cross-train in Mexico
ABS and HIPS plastic from demanufacturing
Cross training our partners - from a women's coop in Mexico - means introducing them to Africans and snow.
Dispatch, scheduling, and accounting jobs were created by admitting that was not Robin's forte. Rachael has improved organization 100%
Our new tech room. Resale of parts and working equipment through 6 different web portals, our sales have increased fivefold since the move.
We were visited by the ex-Attorney General of Burkina Faso, Africa. He wound up seeking asylum, but not before learning to sort "Digital Divide" from "Toxics Along for the Ride"
Wow, we will have real offices.
Roy was one of our first employees, he came in on a job training program, and took apart PCs in an unheated feed mill. Now he is our safety manager and sells cell phones, RAM and ink cartridges.
The ladies coop has sent seven staff for 7 week cross training from the maquila, and we have sent six Vermont staff to run events and cross train in Arizona and Mexico.
The Mexican Ladies Coop is 50% owner of the maquila. They are known as "Las Chicas Bravas" (the tough chicks) in their home state of Sonora.
Right now we use CPU fees to subsidize these albatrosses. No one wants to pay $31 to recycle a 220 lb console TV.
At ElectroniCycle (our MA end market) they even recycle the wood from consoles and broken pallets (into chips and daily cover)
We now have a secure room for laptops.
Attorney General Fred learns how to tell good imports from junk exports, and became an expert on the Basel Convention.
We closed down our TV reuse operation in 2006, but reopoened it in 2008. While the USA is going "digital", Mexico remains analog. We plan to run a "needle exchange" program, offering new USA TVs in return for recycling older junkier Mexican TVs, so there won't be any net pollution.
Our biggest one-day events have been for Dell and NRC in Massachusetts, for Sony in Rhode Island, with Small Dog Electronics in Burlington, VT, and with Tucson Clean and Beautiful in Arizona. We have helped train Dell grantees at events in Palo Alto CA, Austin TX, and elsewhere.
We worked past midnight cleaning up this event, which was thrown into piles due to traffic (blocking access to pallets). Good Point Recycling staff are the best in the business.
We established an international trade association, the World Reuse, Repair and Recycling Assoc. (WR3A.org) WR3A is now considered the "Fair Trade Coffee" of the export business, meeting legitimate demand from good USA companies, and giving the end markets what they need and no more.
Every monitor we ship is pre-inspected, our importer has a valid license, we do our EPA paperwork, and we get a written report of any monitor that misses specifications. The end market charges us to recycle the bad ones at a glass - to - glass operation in Malaysia.
This clear TV on display shows how much of the TV is about the CRT, and how easy it is to rebuild a new TV around a good reuseable CRT
What a waste
More screen burned, scratched, imploded, and off-spec CRTs removed from the reuse loads. We ship 40,000 lbs per week.
Lowball bidders don't pay people to remove the bad ones, don't pay people to take apart the bad ones... The Free Lunch may be "toxics along for the Ride" for someone in China.
This is a picture from inside our largest end market, a massive factory that takes certain acceptable CRTs (no Apple, no Sun, No Trinitron, Sony, etc.) We have a program to track whether the CRT meets the criteria to be turned into a digital TV. Before WR3A, the factory got its good tubes from villages which imported unsorted monitors. "We were good, but closing one eye" said a representative.
Colin visits the factory in person.
Plastic is pelletized, black coloring is added, and even the new monitor housings are made of recycled plastic.
Our new plant in Middlebury may even try in-house plastic recycling -- we are trying to pay to keep one of the injection molders to recycle our own scrap! That would be awesome.
We are negotiating to bring one of the monitor reuse operations to our factory in Mexico, and one to a trading partner in Egypt.
The inside of the factory in Mexico. Picture monitors being remanufactured into TVs here. And bad ones being recycled at a new smelter end market.
Las Chicas Bravas board of directors. How the hell did they find us in Middlebury? How the heck did they talk us into this?
Mexico and Middlebury. Not just environmentalism, but peace, love, and tacos.
Middlebury kids are completely accustomed to sharing meals with Mexican, Malaysian, Egyptian, Senegalese, Cameroonian, Lithuanian, and Burkinabe recyclers. Middlebury has become the Mecca of proper standards for reuse.
We started in a modest warehouse and outgrew it in 2006, and admitted we had outgrown it in 2007.
Our buyers see the ones we take apart in huge volumes... They don't suspect us of taking apart the good ones and shipping the bad ones. They see our shipping records for metal and CRT glass and have confidence in us to meet their purchase orders.
We have added other material, such as cardboard, to our services for the convenience of our clients.
The internet makes it possible for Middlebury to dialogue about shipments in real time with buyers worldwide.
We did a shipment during the Valentines Day blizzard of 2007... the truck got stuck, and I had to walk home in this... frightening. Makes one look forward to an end market site visit in Alexandria Egypt.... or Mexico... or Senegal... PLEASE?
Our partners in Mexico put in the town's only Internet Cafe.
Students in these countries can't afford a new computer, which costs a year's salary. Without the internet, these people will stay 'barefoot and pregnant' (I can say that, having grown up in the Arkansas Ozarks).
Steel bales are more evidence that the "buck stops here" for obsolete equipment.
Mercury and Lithium batteries would have gone to the landfill...
Copper yokes and degaussing coils...
CRT Glass... BAN, California, Dell - everyone is doing the CRT Glass test (coined in Middlebury) to make sure recyclers are really paying the price of recycling CRTs.
Invited to speak to the Guangzhou EPA and Electric Appliance Research Institute. In return for our trip, they gave us guided tours all over the recycling business, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The worst recycling is better than the best mining. We donate to earthworksaction.org, which has finally succeeded at getting reform of the General Mining Act of 1872 through the House of Representatives!!! ON to the SENATE!! If this is meaningfully reformed, we can recycle for free.
We pursued a patent for a process to keep 100% post consumer recycled gold separate, so we can sell it and bring up the value of circuit board recycling.
What if we DON'T Recycle? Based on Chinese demand, this copper mine (OK Tedi) in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea was reopened, after being closed as an environmental disaster in the late 1990s. It dumped 5,000 tons per DAY of cyanide mine tailigns into the river, and destroyed all fishing in the basin. Now the fishermen get jobs at the mine. And the population of orangutans has plummeted. We don't want to have to explain to our children "We did this to get metal for electronics... And then we threw the metal away in a landfill five years later".
Ready to serve businesses and municipalities in a seven state region.
We started off in 2004 with a partnership in Lithuania, where there is still Chad and Race (Midd High School), Roy and Robin.
It's also a cultural melting pot for the "town" of Middlebury and "gown" of Middlebury College
Robin's buddy from Peace Corps 1984-86 running the baler and demanufacturing
Over 5M lbs in 2010
CPUs from the sorting department are sorted for Technical (hard drive wiping) or if below Pentium 3, straight to Demanufacturing (the hammer)
Anything older and slower than 2x Moore's law gets torn down to scrap.
Hard drive wiping station uses DOD approved program to write 1s and 0s over all the data.
Other clients pay to have 30k lb per inch hydraulic press punch holed in the hard drive.
When book recycling collapsed, we added the service to our existing clients
We are trying a local refurbishing option to make working PCs more attractive.
Cardboard baling, plastic baling, Ag film, steel, textiles. Our company offers more convenience and services to our municipal clients.
Apples in their own department, using 2 scrap to make one working.
We visit our overseas buyers in person to inspect and negotiate the over the 22.5% we export. Egyptian Tech Staff (monitor warehouse) work with us because we guarantee NO JUNK in the loads.
A USA Puerto Rican driver takes TV buyers from Peru to see how a WR3A member sources product, and just how much bad stuff they could wind up with if they don't buy from a fair trade recycler.
Mike (a WR3A founding board member) of CCLAC - a digital divide group - discovered this women's coop ("Las Chicas Bravas") who have their own recycling factory, a TV refurbishing operation, and who set up a rural satelite internet cafe in the Sierra Madres.
Ms. Ow Young, Su Fung of Malaysia, representing one of WR3A's largest monitor buyers, visited the WR3A members in Mexico to share marketing plans for USA monitors.
TV repair is considered a technical job, almost like Engineering in the states.
(VIDEO) Jorge talks about meeting the specifications of the market.
A Mexican Women's Coop co-owns the facility and gets 50% of all profits, and controls all hiring and personnel issue. NPR is profiling them in March 2009
Refurbished computers were used to set up the town's first internet cafe
Vermonters and Mexican working together... See coverage on NPR, PBS, and European newspapers!
One of the pleasant ironies in this area is that it will be the recycling jobs that were sustainable, as the mining economy slows (Copper Queen mine pictured)