DURHAM, Jun 25, 2012 (The Herald-Sun – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) —
A Durham-based entrepreneur is looking to build a business on collecting old computers and other e-waste from small and mid-sized businesses as well as from individual consumers, and reselling them to larger recycling firms.
Larry Herst, a former practicing attorney who said he moved away from financial services consulting as a result of the financial crisis, is the entrepreneur behind the business that launched recently.
Based downtown at 905 E. Jackie Robinson Drive, Triangle Ecycling was formed to collect computers and other electronics to sell to other recyclers.
The company accepts computers and electronics from individuals, Herst said, and picks them up from businesses for a charge.
Herst said he could make an exception for individual consumers if an individual had a “huge amount” of electronics, or was willing to pay for the cost of that service.
After the electronics are collected, Herst has them disassembled. The parts are then sold to Global Electric Electronic Processing, a Canadian recycling company that has a facility in Durham.
So far, Triangle Ecycling has helped to recycle close to 20,000 pounds of e-waste, Herst said.
The business’ main competition is free electronics recycling drives hosted by local government, he said.
Larger technology companies can work directly with the Global Electric Electronics Processing, Herst added.
The City of Durham does e-waste recycling for nearly all electronic devices with a cord, including computers, TVs and kitchen electronics, said Amy Blalock, a spokeswoman for the city.
The Durham’s Solid Waste Management Department offers periodic free e-waste recycling events, and in addition, residents can recycle their electronics for free year-round at the city’s waste disposal and recycling center at 2115 E. Club Blvd.
The city’s website http://durhamnc.gov/ich/op/swmd/Pages/wr_electronics.aspx also has links to other companies that collect old electronics.
Donald M. Long, director of the city’s Department of Solid Waste Management, said the city’s e-waste recycling program started in earnest due to a statewide ban on electronics in landfills that went into effect July 1 of last year.
“We are required by law not to dispose of any electronics in a landfill,” Long said in an e-mail. “We collect them so we use a certified company to dispose of (recycle) them legally.”
Long said the department works with the company Synergy Recycling to recycle the computers and other electronics it collects.
As far as security concerns for electronics, Long said Synergy has the “industry certification where they have been inspected to ensure destruction of the information contained on any items.”
Herst said he believes Triangle Ecycling can fill a niche by serving small-to-medium-sized businesses that may not want to drop off computers or other electronics at a free drive.
When the computers are disassembled at Triangle Ecycling, Herst said the first thing the workers do is drill holes into the hard drives to try to destroy any sensitive information that might be stored there.
“The second we get computers back here, we pull out the hard drive, and we drill holes through it to destroy the disc inside the hard drive — there’s some value worth paying for there,” Herst said.
Herst said he hasn’t been charging to accept materials from individuals, but he said he would eventually like to start doing so to help cover the cost of hauling and disassembling the materials.
“As with any start-up, we are being pretty flexible with charging just to build awareness in the community, and grow our customer base,” Herst said in an email. “There is a free coupon for individuals on our website.”
His fees are listed on his website, which include a $3 charge for cameras, cell phones or keyboards or office phones, $7 for desktop or laptop computers, and $15 for microwaves, small TVs, all-in-one printers, monitors or stereo systems.
The charge for businesses is based on the cost of pick-up, Herst said, versus the value of the items they’re looking to have carted away. The more computers that are in the mix, the lower the cost.
“I think there’s a real lack of awareness about the value, the recycling value, of computers,” Herst said, adding he believes that while no one questions that people pay to have bottles, newspapers, and other materials recycled, people view their computers differently.
“I think there are a lot of emotional reasons for that and to some extent, it’s a lack of awareness,” he said.
Herst has used his own money to launch the company. He’s generated revenue, but hasn’t paid back his own investment.
He said he hopes to create jobs through the company. He said he’s employed firefighters to work for him part-time to help with the disassembly of computers. He hopes he’ll get a greater volume coming in, and will be able to employ more.
“I’m not that concerned about paying myself back, but what I am concerned about is creating jobs here,” he said.
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