WARREN, Ohio – A company founded last year has a simple plan with two goals: create a single point to recycle electronic waste and reduce the risk of it ending up in a landfill.
In the process, GreenBoard IT, Warren, intends to provide an outlet for recycled materials such as lithium and other rare earth metals found in computers and other electronics, says its vice president, Wiley Runnestrand.
“We prevent those from being wasted,” Runnestrand says.
Lithium is especially dangerous to bury in landfills since the material is notorious as a conductor for fires, he says. It’s also valuable, since rare earth materials – while not exactly rare – are difficult to source in the United States and are vital to the production of electric-vehicle batteries or magnets used in military weapons.
“It’s a commodity for a strategic defense perspective and a sustainability perspective, because it’s a rare earth metal,” Runnestrand says. Recycling this material reduces the need for mining rare earth elements in other countries.
GreenBoard contracts with companies to provide a service known as Information Technology Asset Disposition, or ITAD. “For the average consumer, it’s easy to throw out a laptop,” Runnestrand says. “But, larger businesses can’t.”
The company destroys the data and recycles just about every part of the computer, he says. A third-party certifies that the process has been carried out properly. The company documents and confirms destruction of data in every device it receives.
GreenBoard IT provides consumer pickup services and hosts collection days once a month. “We’ve worked with the Portage Solid Waste District on electronics drives,” he says, noting the company hopes to work with the Mahoning County Green Team.
The company has also partnered with Youngstown State University in its recycling efforts. “We worked with them doing a tech recycling day,” says Nicholas Koupiaris, president of YSU Student Government. “We were able to get 360 pounds of tech donated. We’re hoping to do it again.”
Koupiaris says GreenBoard IT fit perfectly with student government’s overall objective of building more sustainability on campus.
“Not only do you spread awareness, you get to be a part of changing the culture here at YSU and find ways you can do things better for the environment,” he says. “It’s a shift in thinking for our students.”
Among the other sustainability efforts YSU students initiated were the installation of solar-powered phone charging stations, he says. “Going more and more toward a goal in forward thinking and finding room for more growth.”
Pictured: Wiley Runnestrand’s company recycles rare earth materials such as lithium.