In the southwestern Ontario city of Cambridge, one of Canada’s largest collectors and recyclers of used electronics, cell phones, and print cartridges — Greentec — has been growing steadily since its inception in 1995. Established as a home-based business trading in used technology products, Greentec now operates out of a 90,000 square foot facility that houses its recycling operations.
The company achieved 1S0 14001 registration in 2002 and received environment ministry approval in 2007. The company finds sustainable solutions and audits downstream partners to ensure no waste electronics or electrical equipment (WEEE) materials are sent to landfill or developing countries for processing.
Greentec manages collection, transportation, sorting, asset recovery, recycling, environmental reporting, and even collection events. Processes can be customized to meet individual customer needs; since 1997 Greentec has secured over 2,000 contracts from 700 customers in 15 countries. One department of a local municipality diverted 7,479 pounds of e-waste from landfills in one month by partnering with Greentec. The company also collects consumer in-store returns and end-of-life electronics from national retailers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Plant and operations
When electronic waste, cell phones or cartridges come into the facility, they’re first examined to determine whether they can be reused or refurbished. If not, they’re ground down so plastics and metals can be recovered by downstream partners. Greentec collects six million toner and ink cartridges annually, close to 90 per cent of which are reusable, and processes more than 200,000 cell phones.
Depending on whether the client wishes to recover value, Greentec will pay for items that can be reused. The company has a testing and remarketing team with a network of secondary market buyers that allows them to maximize value recovery on a broad selection of items. Since 1997 sales revenue has grown by almost 700 per cent. If the client does not want to have any of their products reach a secondary market, the company offers secure destruction. Items are ground down and destroyed in accordance with environmental legislation and electronics recycling standards.
Says Tony Perrotta, president of Greentec, “Most people are concerned about their personal information getting out there. We make sure that when we get a product in, we wipe it of any personal information, including computer equipment. Their hard drives are cleared according to U. S. Department of Defense Standards.”
With the Ontario e-waste stewardship program in effect, business is growing. During one Earth Week collection event alone, the company saw 60,000 pounds come through the facility just from the Cambridge region.
Greentec’s closed loop system is composed of an initial feed conveyor for delivery of e-waste to a two-shaft industrial shredder. This slow speed, high torque shear shredder delivers more than 80,000 lbs of cutting force and torque, easily capturing and reducing these materials to an initial size of approx 1 1/2″ wide x 2″ to 6″ long pieces (and smaller).
Material leaving the first shredder is transported via a sort conveyor complete with magnetic head pulley to the secondary reduction side. Operators manually remove stainless steel shafts and any other materials not destine for additional processing. The magnetic head pulley automatically extracts the majority of ferrous materials to a separate container.
At this point the general shredded e-waste may be diverted to stock pile (simple destruction) or be allowed to pass to the secondary reduction side via an enclosed feed conveyor.
A separate gaylord tipper is also included at this location for the introduction of waste toner cartridges to the secondary shredder. The fully enclosed feed conveyor transports these toner cartridges (and or shredded e-waste) to the four shaft shredder to be reduced to a 30 mm (1 1/2″) minus particle. When processing cartridges, the stainless steel feed hopper will be under a constant high-pressure water mist spray to eliminate any sparking issues or chance of fire/explosion. All materials exiting the shredder fall directly to a stainless steel vibrating dewatering screener below. This screener is completely sealed to the shredder and downstream removal conveyor for dust collection and fines containment. Runoff water is collected at this point, then filtered and disposed of in an environmentally sound and approved way.
A secondary removal conveyor from the screener transports the shredded materials to the separation module. Material exiting this conveyor is subjected to an additional vibratory screen for removal of fines and at the same time for the removal of any missed minor ferrous by a cross belt magnet. This vibratory screener also serves as a feeder to a rare earth eddy current separator, which in turn removes any aluminum to a collection container.
Final separation of the remaining mixed red metals and, circuit boards from the plastics is completed by an all metal sorter. This unit takes the mixed stream from the eddy current unit and effectively separates any metal-bearing material from the plastic content.
Greentec also has a horizontal baler that can compact corrugated, plastics and light metals bails of 1500lbs.
Guy Crittenden is editor of this magazine. Contact Guy at email@example.com
“During one Earth Week collection event, 60,000 pounds come through the facility from the Cambridge region.”