Electronics recycling a fast-growing venture

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Jeffery Ferguson, left, and Ken Burns operate E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado, a fast-growing Grand Junction firm that processes copiers, computers and other electronics. (Business Times photo by Phil Castle)

Running a fast-growing electronic recycling business has been something of a moving experience for Ken Burns and Jeffery Ferguson.

By accepting nearly everything that plugs into an outlet or runs on batteries, E-Waste Recyclers of Colorado has grown as rapidly as the volume of materials the Grand Junction company handles. In the process, the company has moved four times in less than a year into successively larger quarters.

“We just continue to grow,” said Burns,

co-owner along with Ferguson, his brother-in-law.

The two have even loftier ambitions in securing an important certification and further expanding operations. “We want to be a national player in three years,” Burns said.

Their latest move brings E-Waste Recyclers to 1027 S. Seventh St. The 8,000 square-foot building offers more room as well as office space for the company, Burns said.

Burns and Ferguson launched the company in July 2011 with a Web site, a storage unit, a few tools and a Toyota Camry they used to pick up electronics.

The operation quickly outgrew the storage unit and Burns and Ferguson moved into a building on First Street and then into a nearby warehouse previously used for a furniture store.

E-Waste Recyclers accepts most materials for no charge, including appliances, computers, cellular telephones and office equipment. The only exception is the cathode ray tubes (CRTs) found in older TVs and computer monitors. The firm charges $10 to $35 to dispose of CRTs.

In addition to accepting materials from individuals, E-Waste Recyclers has secured a number of commercial and governmental clients in Western Colorado, Burns said.

E-Waste Recyclers processes materials in a variety of ways. Electronics that don’t work are dismantled to salvage the various metals used in their construction, including aluminum, copper, steel and even the gold found in high-grade circuit boards. Equipment that still works is refurbished and sold or donated to local charities, Burns said.

The volume of electronics the company processes has grown significantly. Operating only about five months in 2011, the firm handled 79 tons of materials. Burns expects that figure to increase to 140 tons in 2012.

Burns hope to soon secure what’s called responsible recycling, or R 2, certification. Meeting those guidelines not only would make E-Waste Recyclers the only certified firm in Western Colorado, but also enable the company to work for any client across the country, he said.

While electronics recycling constitutes good business, it also serves an important function in addressing the growing problem of disposing of obsolete computers and other devices while keeping potentially hazardous materials out of landfills. And that’s a moving experience for Burns and Ferguson as well.

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