According to the EPA, electronic waste is the source of up to 70 percent of the heavy metal in America’s landfills. The environmental issue is only part of the problem. Electronic devices pose a real security risk due to the presence of important proprietary data.
In response to a growing need for sustainable solutions, Covanta, known worldwide as one of the largest owners and operators of infrastructure for the conversion of waste-to-energy, formed a team of specialists dedicated to the safe, secure recycling of e-waste. ECOvanta, as Covanta’s e-waste recycling division was originally named in 2011 when it first began operation, was born. Since 2013 Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling has been a Sustaining Advisory Member of NERC.
All types of electronic equipment are recycled by Covanta’s electronic waste recycling division. From small household appliances, to large business servers, Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling works with communities, businesses, and organizations to recycle electronics the right way; keeping potentially toxic materials out of the waste streams and out of landfills while recovering valuable commodities for recycling. This reduces greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, saves energy, and conserves natural resources.
Covanta uses a combination of manual disassembly and an automated shredding system to separate materials into commodities for proper recycling. It works to eradicate the risk for data theft by removing the hard drives and completely shreds all of them in their state of the art shredder line.
Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling obtained e-Stewards, Responsible Recycling (R2), and ISO 14001:2004 certifications for its ECOvanta division after comprehensive accredited third-party audits. The company provides customers absolute and certain destruction of hardware that contains proprietary or sensitive data.
Covanta recycles more than 99 percent of the e-waste it receives and audits all of its downstream recycling partners to make sure they follow the same standards the company does.
The company also forms partnerships with municipalities and counties to establish permanent drop-off points or collection events for electronics and to complete the triangle of how EPR (Extended Producer Responsibility) works between the municipalities and the manufacturers. Laws vary by state so the company pays attention to the detail required to track and audit where the electronics come from and where they go. For instance, some states require brand sorting, so Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling has the capability to sort items by brand.
In 2014, Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling recycled over 14 million pounds of e-scrap. “Everything we take in is recyclable…for reuse or refurbishing. We make a determination on the condition and functionality of the item and then decide whether to send to a company for reuse, or gather the raw materials inside and send off to an end user that will turn them into a new product,” says Gordon Burgoyne, manager of Covanta’s e-waste programs. “We want to make it easy as possible for the customer to recycle their electronics through collection point strategies or some wonderful events in communities.”
NERC Advisory Members have different reasons for joining. Burgoyne explains his: “In 2012, I heard Lynn Rubinstein [NERC Executive Director] speak at a conference. An executive at Covanta introduced me to Lynn, and that’s when I learned about the Northeast Recycling Council and the work they do. I quickly realized that the NERC audience is the same group we focus on with e-waste recycling and e-waste issues. The states represented on the Board are the same states where Covanta Electronic Waste Recycling does business. So it is a good match. I really enjoy the education I gain at the NERC conferences and the networking opportunities are fabulous. We also exhibit at the conferences which gives our company higher visibility in the industry. I have never regretted my decision to join. ”