After reading an article from Oregon Live, (here) I have become really excited about my belief in a future market that I have entitled as a “Waste products aftermarket.” For a more detailed account, please see my recent posts on a theoretical framework and part I.
The article details the efforts of a recycling business called Total Reclaim located in Alaska, Oregon and Washington. The primary business of Total Reclaim is through the recycling of e-waste products such as TVs and computer monitors. Among other services, they recycle other durables that have been thrown away including refrigerators and HVACs.
A video here explains their production process in detail:
Notice towards the end of the video the on-site production process of plastic pellets. Not only is this a finished product that can go back into new electronics, it adds value to something that otherwise would have gone into a landfill. There is money to be made there. Your taking a product worth nothing and processing it into a product worth something.
The primary driver for their business in e-waste is thanks to support from state legislatures. In all three states that Total Reclaim operates, it is illegal to throw away your e-waste in traditional land fills. (i.e. throw them out onto the curb for trash pickup) The only legal way to discard e-waste in these states is to bring them to a licensed recycling center such as Total Reclaim. For a fee that varies depending on what you bring in, they will recycle your e-waste.
The fee is an important factor to consider. If there was no ban on curbside e-waste, what would the price be then? Right now, the cost to recycle e-waste can average (give or take) $50. The ban obviously forces people to demand Total Reclaim services (explains their 30% growth) which can push the price for recycling down. Thanks to the legislation, the price for e-waste recycling has fallen. In addition, legislators are looking to eliminate the deferred cost of waste management and instead make the cost upfront by forcing manufacturers to offer a rebate so that the cost of recycling of the device is already factored in the purchase price. This will lead to more downward pressures on the price of recycling.
Already you can see a viable business opportunity and a large amount of growth given the partnership that Total Reclaim has with the public. Akin to the beginnings of the railroad and telephone industry, with waste product aftermarkets in its infancy, government support should help nurture growth. Continued public support, (like the manufacture rebate program) expanding coverage to outer areas of the state, (or even lobbying to change legislation in other states…or better, federally) and the discovering and implementation of new technologies in order to offer more products and services could mean that Total Reclaim is one of the leading companies that could make this into a viable and profitable opportunity that is focused on sustainable business practices and providing value for environmental safety and conservation.