Interview with Environmental Service Group: Notes

Notes: here

What I found out was:
The Environmental Service Group is actually a transfer facility. Sunnking sends their electronics with hazardous waste to the transfer facility.

  • Transfer facility:  ship it to wear it needs to go. Don’t actually store or get rid of it
  • station but they are not disposed of there
  • come in but sent out in bulk loads 
  •  Sunnking breaks down all the electronics and sends their electronics with hazardous waste to Environmental Service Group
  • 4 different facilities that they ship it out to Ohio and Michigan
  • How do the other places dispose of the hazardous waste?
    • a lot of hazardous waste gets incinerated
    • fuels blending, liquid injection, metal recovery
  • for hazardous waste – can only be stored up to 10 days. Within 10 days it has to be shipped.
  • all stored in DOT shipping containers (department of transportation)
  • They ship to: Environmental Enterprise Inc.
    • In Cincinnati, Ohio and Columbus, Ohio
    • Different disposal methods that they use

Interview with Sunnking: Notes

Interview questionnaire: here
Interview answers: here

Talking with the representative of Sunnking helped me get a better grasp of the large and complicated network involved with the recycling of electronic products.

Key organizations involved with electronic recycling: a.) Drop-off or refurbishing organization (i.e. Gowanus e-waste warehouse), b.) Haulers (i.e. Sunnking uses their own 3rd party carriers to transport materials), c.) Electronics recyclers (i.e. Sunnking), d.) Brokers, e.) Smelters, f.) Ring mills, g.) End of life facilities, h.) Company that specializes in hazardous waste disposals

After speaking with Sunnking and Tom Igoe I am definitely feeling the need to diagram this network of organizations involved with electronics recycling. Keep in mind, this is all only for recycling. I have yet to figure out what happens when they are dumped in landfills or end up in incinerators.

Interview with Stephanie K. at Sourcemap: Notes

My interviews notes here.

Speaking with Stephanie was extremely helpful for better understanding how to get data and information to map the supply chain of products. She talked about how Sourcemap finds the suppliers at each tier. Surprisingly, the process of tracing the supply chain is more analog then I expected – it is really about finding out from the supplier who they receive and send to. As suspected, part of the reason the supply chain of electronics are not mapped is because of how truly complex this becomes. There are thousands of components, thousands of materials, thousands of human hands, thousands of locations that have come together to make an electronic product. The supply chain for digital devices is not as easy to trace as a product like coffee.

Other great references she provided:

Conversation with Tom – 12/10/19

Notes from my office hour with Tom Igoe

As always, this was a very helpful session.

  • How far away does this material go?
    • Chase down the line → where does the crap on this board lead to?
  • Graphically communicate this complex system of breaking electronic components down
  • Teardown
    • Just being able to say → circuit board as a whole thing→ 2 different recycling materials but related → different parts are harder to tackle
    • Are ground up resistors actually reusable? 

Interview with Kara, Sims Recycling Center

Interview Notes

Some Takeaways:

  • What happens when electronics show up… they become co-mingled with all the other waste like metal, glass, plastic
    • At the recycling center there are a series of technology that sort out the different materials that then get sold to the smelters
    • With an electronic products, there’s no technology that sorts it out from the mix
    • If it accidentally gets in the mix the consequences are dangerous
    • Especially with batteries, fires can occur at the center if they are mixed in
  • Other problems that happens when electronics get mixed into the waste batch
    • Electronics are going to waste —> negative consequences when they go to landfills and incinerators
    • If it ends up in a waste bail (tightly compressed cubes), they bail up the waste and the electronic ends up going to incinerator
    • What happens if the electronic ends up the waste pile? Need to know specifics!

Interview with Christine, LES Ecology Center

Interview Notes

Some Takeaways:

  • Still a youth opportunity to educate people more about what happens to electronics when they are thrown and why they should care about it
  • Advocate for in the industry → items are not just produced → planned obsolescence in mind → then the printer doesn’t work → really build things that can be created → cell phones that have batteries that can be exchanged to live together → better design of these products → pushed by the industry to sell → not just about squandering 
  • “Big picture is that we want to see devices not get thrown away so easily” – Christine

Conversation with Marina – 11/25/19

Monday, 11/25/19

Good books/articles/websites she recommended

Other notes or reflection

She was extremely great at helping me take a step back and reflect on what it is I want people to take away from this project? As opposed to making a speculative project (something I feel uncomfortable doing anyways), the nudge was to make a connection and create validity amongst the community at the forefront of e-waste. Ultimately, whose attention am I trying to get and what are the takeaways I want people to have? Is awareness even the issue? How to make changes in habit? Also, she has the most spot-on references. So much gratitude for her.

Other self-reflective questions and notes to think through: 

  • What is the best strategy for learning?
  • Nudges to stay away from speculative art as it will be harder for the waste community + experts to take me seriously this way
  • Can I trace the emotional journey that I went through since I began my research?
  • What happens to the products after sorting? This is just something I should find out.
    • Outreach campaign on the appropriate ways to dispose?
    • What happens to recycling after sorting in NYC?
  • What is the effective/affective outcome that I want? I should think outcomes and work backwards
  • Issues with using the microscope as a metaphor for looking closer in this context
  • Semiconductor fields: beautiful films that explain scientific concepts 
    • But the question remains…what next? 
    • What am I trying to achieve?
  • Awareness; change habits? 
  • Who is this for?
    • For kids? If so, need to know protocol
    • Why are you asking people to care?
  • What’s the next generation of recycling?
  • Is there really a value in seeing this arc of life to death?
  • Ask the experts, ask LES ecology, ask SIMS Recycling Center.