Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle…. Or Not?

If you’ve ever been involved with Kramden, you know how seriously we take our electronics recycling program.  We put an emphasis on reuse first, by evaluating every desktop, laptop, and LCD monitor that comes through our door to see if it meets our standards for reuse. Every item that meets our specifications for hardware capabilities and cosmetic condition enters the refurbishing process and ultimately winds up in the hands of a student in need of a computer.

Unfortunately, we cannot directly refurbish every computer that is donated to Kramden. Some are too old or in too rough of shape to go through the refurbishing process. All of the computers that don’t meet our minimum specifications are taken back to our sorting and recycling area where volunteers disassemble them down to their basic parts. Any part that we can reuse is put back into service. Everything we can’t reuse is sorted out and prepared for recycling. We mean everything, from old motherboards and disk drives to scratched monitors and broken keyboards. That’s our process – reuse or recycle – with nothing being tossed in the dumpster.

A Kramden Super Geek takes apart an old desktop computer.

Recently, KCTS 9 posted a video and article that follow Jim Pickett of the Basel Action Network, an e-waste watchdog group, which highlight the shortcomings of the global e-waste recycling industry. It is a fascinating and disheartening piece, but one that everyone should see. The investigation showed that the vast majority of e-waste is being recycled properly here in the US. However, too often computers, televisions, and printers are instead shipped whole to countries in Asia where they are improperly broken down by companies that do not employ basic safety precautions. This behavior has catastrophic health and environmental consequences and needs to be stopped.

At Kramden, we believe in proper recycling and environmental protection, which is why we are taking the time to bring this issue to your attention and be transparent about our process.

We set high standards for recycling equipment that is donated to Kramden and only work with select partners. The recyclers we work with must hold top-level certifications for their operations including R2 and ISO 14001. We visit the facilities of our partners on a regular basis to make sure every item, no matter how small, is being handled properly. We do not accept items for donation that we and our partners are not equipped to properly recycle. By breaking down old computers and sorting them the way we do, we ensure that they are recycled and remanufactured sooner and more efficiently.

With our commitment to doing things the right way, we invite anyone in our community to ask questions about our operations. Stop by our office for a tour and we will gladly walk you through our refurbishing and recycling process, from the moment a computer enters our front door until it leaves the building. You can find our contact information here.

Want to learn more about this issue or read the full article by KCTS 9? Click here.