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It may seem hard to trust people in the electronics recycling industry today. Even with e-Stewards or R2 certifications, many companies are still found to violate laws or fail in their commitment to properly recycle or reuse discarded electronics. There are an increasing number of stories related to these problems, some of which are cataloged here.
For the past 2 years (ending in May 2016), the Basel Action Network (BAN.org) has been engaged in a project to map and understand the flows of actual hazardous e-waste within and exported from the US. This has been accomplished through the use of electronic tracking devices placed into non-functional, economically unrepairable electronic equipment delivered to publicly accessible e-waste recycling drop-off sites around the country. The results of BAN's larger e-Trash Transparency Project, which uncovered many organizations (of all types) exporting e-waste, have been published in a series of reports. The findings were also shared during the May 9, 2016 PBS's NewsHour show.
Cascade believes that industry related certifications are a good first step, but they are not a substitute for your own due diligence as you look to partner with a firm to handle your IT Asset Disposition needs and the ultimate recovery and recycling of your electronics. Just as Cascade conducts on-site audits of its key processors, you should do the same. Otherwise you might be implicated in illegal e-waste disposal schemes.
When it comes to problematic materials, like lead in CRTs and mercury in LCD panels, Cascade is setting the standard for responsible recycling. We wrote the definitive paper on CRT processing risks (published by IEEE in May 2003) and were cited by e-Scrap News in September for our installation of a downdraft table to capture any mercury that might escape in the demanufacturing process. These mercury lamps are then finally recycled at a licensed Veolia retort facility in Wisconsin where the pure mercury is separated from recyclable components. We believe in research and development to understand and manage the risks so neither our employees or anyone else in our recycling chain is harmed by the hazardous elements needing to be recovered from waste electronics.
We encourage our customers and other interested parties to be thorough in your assessment of Cascade's processing activities and compare us to others. We are open to both announced and unannounced audits and customer visits. We are happy to share our detailed Self-Audit packet listing all our permits, management systems, inspections, and downstream processors. You can contact our customers or vendors as references. If you have any concern about your liability for the disposal of company electronics (and you should), you really do need to personally visit your processor's facilities and dig into what they do. Learn more about Cascade's environmental management system and how it protects your risk.
This photo of Cascade's Madison facility shows how equipment is continually moved through our refurbishment, disassembly, shredding and baling processes. We don't stockpile materials.
How Cascade protects its customers and the environment:
Cascade's e-Stewards certified electronics reuse and recycling process provides the best assurance that our customers' equipment is processed responsibly and that their e-waste won't end up as a tragic incident and news headline. Cascade goes even further than what this standard requires through more on-site due diligence and additional worker health and safety protection programs. Our Safe & Sound programs go beyond compliance with laws and industry standards to ensure we mitigate risk for our customers, our company and our planet.
Through our annual downstream due diligence audits, we review and verify that all our vendors are not accumulating toxic materials and are properly processing them for final reclamation and treatment. Cascade performs a comprehensive audit of its downstream processors who handle hazardous electronic equipment and problematic materials or components. The audit requires the completion of an audit questionnaire, a site visit by Cascade or contracted auditing partner, and a review of claims made by the processor. Cascade personnel will contact their local environmental regulators, confirm activity with their own downstream processors, and search for public reports of the company. Cascade then executes a contract, agreement, or shares a listing of requirements with each qualified processor to ensure that both the interests of our customers and our company are protected.
Cascade has been in business since 1999 and we have never waivered from our commitment to environmental responsibility and social justice. We don't cut corners. We always question the cheap and easy solution because we are more concerned protecting our customers' interest and liability. We have been regularly recognized by the Basel Action Network (BAN), e-Stewards, Gartner, and our peers as one of the leaders in environmental responsibility and safety in the ITAD and electronics recycling industry. Let us show you how our programs align with your business requirements and sustainability goals. Contact us for more details or to set up a visit.