EOS: As E-Waste Grows, So Does Business
- By Lisa Weber
- Sep 01, 2011
Doing a job, doing it quickly and doing it well — this, says Chris Stoddard, president of Environmental Office Solutions, is the key to his business’s success.
EOS, in business since 1996, offers an e-waste recycling program for large corporations, municipalities and small businesses. E-waste refers to any loosely discarded, broken or out-of-date electrical or electronic device. The company buys OEM surplus and liquidations of toner and inkjet cartridges, faxes, all-in-ones, copier ink and cell phones, then finds environmentally sound ways to recycle these items.
Recycling these products recovers valuable materials that can be used to make new products, Stoddard explains. This process reduces pollution and saves energy by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. The safe recycling of electronics also supports responsible management of toxic chemicals such as lead and mercury.
Stoddard, who says he has worked with printers practically all of his life, has seen his company grow exponentially over the years. “We’ve grown in a series of different ways,” he says. “We started regionally, in Connecticut, New York and in the Northeast. Over the years, we’ve grown to include the entire United States and (have gone) international.
“We have a pretty significant vendor database,” Stoddard continues. “We process for schools, churches, nonprofits ... We have a strong pipeline of stuff coming in all the time.”
Because EOS prides itself on outstanding customer service, evidenced by a quick turnaround for processing and payment, it is often rewarded with customer loyalty. “Once we get a vendor and do what we do, it’s very rare we lose them,” Stoddard says. “There’s a lot of competition, but we process quickly, pay accurately and pay quickly. Our history and our commitment to doing it right” keep customers coming back, he says. EOS offers competitive pricing with a match or beat buyback guarantee, he adds.
As technology grows and expands, explains Stoddard, so do his business and the amount of e-waste taking up space in landfills. E-waste can include laser printer cartridges, inkjet printer cartridges, copier cartridges, fax cartridges, multifunctional peripherals (MFPs or all-in-ones) along with used cell phones and IT equipment like desktop PCs, laptops and servers. All of this waste damages air, soil and water, destroying the environment and endangering humans and animals, Stoddard says.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, electronic waste accounts for less than 4 percent of the total solid waste stream in the United States; however, electronic waste is growing two to three times faster than any other waste stream, such as paper or plastics.
Donating used electronics for reuse extends the lives of valuable products, Stoddard explains. About half of the states currently have laws about the disposal and recycling of electronics, and several other states are considering passing similar laws.
EOS recently moved its headquarters to a 32,000-square-foot recycling facility in East Hartford, Conn. “Larger offices, larger production,” Stoddard says. “We spread out, put some investment in. ... It was well-needed, so we bit the bullet and moved.” EOS also operates a smaller facility in California. Both facilities implement zero-waste practices to help the environment by reducing the amount of nonbiodegradable waste in landfills, Stoddard explains.
While protecting the environment with responsible recycling, Stoddard says he is able to provide income-generating solutions for his customers at the same time. EOS, which employs about 60 workers, collects and buys back used cell phones of most makes, models and conditions, including new, used, refurbished and obsolete cell phones. It also reclaims and recycles IT equipment, including desktop PCs, laptop computers and servers for remanufacturing or disposal. According to Stoddard, the company practices closed-loop recycling measures and implements zero-waste policies, allowing him to reclaim as much usable material as possible and follow earth-friendly, end-of-life processing for all collected items. Each unit, he says, is inspected, classified and prepared for end-of-life disposal or remanufacturing.
When he first started in recycling, Stoddard recalls, there was only one printer cartridge: the 85A. “That was it,” he remembers. “Our focus when we started was ink and toner, but we’ve had to evolve over the years.” As recently as a decade ago, there were maybe 100 SKUs to learn. Today, there are thousands. Not only that, but the proliferation of cell phones, GPS units, gaming consoles and PDAs has opened up a whole new opportunity for both e-waste and recycling. “It can be successful and profitable,” Stoddard says, “and it can be environmentally friendly.”
Cell phones and accessories are made from precious metals, copper and plastics — all of which require energy to extract and manufacture. According to the EPA, recycling cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions, keeps valuable material out of landfills and incinerators, and conserves natural resources.
Along with protecting the environment, EOS is committed to protecting the consumer. Each unit, Stoddard promises, is securely handled and disposed of in a way that protects the data.
The company also sponsors a CC Cash program, which helps schools, churches, athletic teams and civic groups run fundraisers. Groups that enroll receive a starter kit that includes collection boxes, posters and supplies to help launch their fundraising program. In addition to office equipment, unused and unwanted devices such as old gaming consoles, iPods, MP3 players and DVDs are collected. The boxes come with prepaid shipping labels and need only to be delivered to the nearest UPS store. CC Cash will inspect and classify each item in the shipment and mail a check to the participating organization within 30 days. According to the company website, each brand and model varies in value. Some toner cartridges are worth up to $10, and some cell phones are worth up to $63.
Keeping up with technology and all of its components is Stoddard’s biggest challenge. “We have a strong focus on growing ink and toner collection,” he says, “but cell phones and electronic stuff is the future.” And as technology grows and evolves, so will EOS, Stoddard predicts. “Being green and having a focus on the environment is the wave of the future.”
This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Recharger.