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Posted May 3rd, 2011

60 Minutes Segment – Who’s to blame?

If you did not get a chance to watch the CBS “60 Minutes” segment on the exportation of electronics to China – you should watch it.  Here is the link to the program:

60 Minutes Video

Besides the fact the owner of Executive Recycling flat out lied about how he was handling and processing the electronics they were collecting, we have to ask the question, who else is to blame in that situation?

CBS failed to report that there was another company that actually bid on the computer recycling contract for the City of Denver.  The reason that they were not considered was because they needed to charge the municipality to process the material. This other computer recycling company was not awarded the contract because Executive Recycling offered the service for free.

The most troubling piece of this puzzle is: had the City of Denver just done a little research on electronics recycling they would have found that no one can properly recycle CRT monitors for free domestically. CRT monitors are a very large part of the waste that is generated at residential collection events.  Why is no one questioning the municipality’s decisions?  The City of Denver is the one who actually chose Executive Recycling.  Why did they just choose to go with the cheapest recycling company instead of the most effective?  Why did they not look into the fact that one company was charging them and one company was going to do it for free?  I guess they never heard of the saying, “If it sounds to good to be true, then it’s not true.”

OK, so does that mean that if a company is offering free recycling then you should be completely skeptical?  No – lots of companies do collection events with minimal costs to the consumer. What this means is that if a company is offering free electronics recycling then the user of the services needs to know – what’s the catch?  What value is the company receiving for offering free services? If they are not charging for the recycling, then the value has to be coming from somewhere else. For-profit businesses usually do not do things for free.

Collection events are a great way to promote and market the company and its services. One place that many companies gain value out of a collection event is the publicity or marketing opportunities that the event creates.  Perhaps the recycling company is being paid to provide their services for free at a particular recycling event. Maybe the event is being held at the company’s location where the costs are significantly reduced.

Where was the value for Executive Recycling?  It seems that the value was in shipping the material overseas to China where the electronics are paid for regardless of what they are or what condition they are in.

If you are using a computer recycler and they are offering the service completely free:

1) ask questions to find out what value they are getting for providing the service, and

2) ask questions about their entire recycling process.

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