During my 20+ years in IT work, data security has been my biggest passion,” stated Chad Hayes. Hayes is currently the chief technology officer and director of Sadoff E-recycling & Data Destruction (S.E.D.D.), a Sadoff Iron & Metal company. Hayes has been in from the ground floor of the planning and development of this new enterprise — whose slogan, “Destroying your past … to protect your future,” — meshes perfectly with his passion. Less than a year old, the electronics recycling company held its grand opening in December 2017.
The new company already has an impressive record of certifications, with plans to complete the difficult industry standard R2 certification in-house by October. “We’re completing the entire R2 certification in-house rather than outsourcing the work, because we want to be sure everything is done correctly,” Hayes explained. “We have already completed — with the help of our parent company — the industry certifications ISO 9000, 14,000 and 18,000. We will be one of a very few electronics recycling companies in the US to have completed all these industry certifications, plus the soon-to-be completed R2 certification. “
Backed by the reputation for integrity of its 70-year-old, family-owned parent company, the new electronics recycling business has been growing rapidly, attracting corporate clients in finance, education, health care and IT who are concerned about secure destruction of data on old cell phones, hard drives, tablets, card readers and other electronics equipment. “Our customers appreciate the alternative we represent for environmentally responsible, transparent recycling of e-scrap,” Hayes continued. “Every month we get new customers.” Currently, SEDD’s two electronics recycling centers — in Oshkosh, WI and La Vista, NE — have 11 full-time employees.
One might expect that a company with two midwestern e-recycling centers would be strictly regional in nature. Not so, in this case. Through its parent company’s fleet of trucks and the trucking fleets of its business partners, Sadoff electronics recycling can offer a secure chain of custody from “almost anywhere in the US” to its facilities in Nebraska or Wisconsin.
Their prices are attractive both to large companies needing many devices recycled, as well as to smaller companies watching the bottom line. Both Sadoff’s data destruction and their electronics recycling services are less costly than many would expect. “If you bring in a tower to have the data destroyed, we’ll pay you for the value of the materials, which can help to offset the costs of the hard drive shredding.”
Sadoff E-Recycling and Data Destruction Co. also offers the service of coming to businesses that have, over time, accumulated older electronic devices in storage. Sadoff specialists can advise the company what could be remarketed and what is best to recycle.
Recognizing that no two businesses are the same, Sadoff E-Recycling provides the services of their dedicated recycling and data destruction specialists, who can work with a company to create a customized and reliable solution to fit each company’s specific needs. Equipment handled, in addition to items already mentioned, includes computers, networking equipment, monitors and TV’s, computer accessories and parts, media/storage devices, batteries, audio-visual equipment, printers, gaming consoles, industrial machinery/robotics and tools and equipment
In their secure, windowless work room— accessible by badge only — workers will disassemble old computers and other electronics equipment, separating their components for recycling, after shredding the hard drives. “Everything is reduced, reused and recycled in a secure, environmentally responsible manner,” explained Hayes. “Less than 1 percent of a computer currently goes to the landfill.” Gold, silver, copper and palladium present in very minute amounts will be separated from the rest, painstakingly collected and responsibly recycled. “Even some memory card strips contain a microscopic amount of precious metal which can be recycled.”
Customers are given a certificate of destruction with the item’s serial number on it, backed by Sadoff’s guarantee that the data is gone. “We shred every hard drive that comes in to ensure 100 percent digital data destruction,” noted Hayes. Sadoff contractually owns liability for the data destruction, and is backed 100 percent by insurance that adheres to NAID requirements. The parent company’s 70-years-long reputation for paying close attention to each and every detail is carried on in the new Sadoff e-recycling company.
Sometimes banks request that Sadoff’s mobile data destruction service be brought to their facility, so they can view the process. “We also encourage customers to drop in any time to watch what we’re doing and ask questions. We give tours. We want to be transparent. We’re very proud of what we do,” added Hayes.
Every item in every load that enters either of Sadoff’s facilities is automatically inventoried by their ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), “which is the backbone of our computer system,” running both the inventory and the financial system. Nothing is left to chance at either of Sadoff’s companies.
“Each delivery is met by one of us personally, and escorted by us through our facility, which is camera monitored throughout, to our secure work room or our secure metal cage storage for devices awaiting recycling,” explained Hayes. The data chain of custody remains unbroken until the data bearing devices are reduced by the shredder into a pile of unrecognizable shards of metal. “No data leaves our secure room. Everything that enters is shredded.
“We’re audited yearly by R2 and we self-audit. We want to be sure we can prove to our customers and partners that we do what we say we are doing. Trust is a very important element with our customers and business partners.”
For refining, Sadoff e-recycling partners with a US refining company who takes Sadoff’s large accumulations consisting of miniscule amounts of gold, silver, palladium and copper from recycled devices and melts it into ingots of mixed metals.
To recover the individual precious metals, the next step is smelting. “Smelting metals is a dirty business, and a start-up requires costly environmental and air quality safeguards,” explained Hayes. As a result, after the refiner has paid Sadoff for the accumulated metals in the ingots, the ingots are sent to trusted smelting partners in Europe who have been extensively vetted. “We are currently also in the process of vetting some smelters in Japan as potential partners, but that vetting process is not yet complete,” noted Hayes.
Sadoff’s legendary attention to detail in all their transactions is a huge plus in finding trustworthy smelting partners. “We want to make sure that all our recycling partners are good stewards of the environment, and are following the law.” Unfortunately, as recent news stories have indicated, this does not always happen with some less detail-oriented companies.
Currently, the most troublesome part of a computer to recycle is the plastic case. “Although we have partners who will recycle plastic for reuse in new computer cases and in other products — some of which are required by law to contain a certain percentage of recycled plastic — and we have other partners who will recycle plastic into pellets,” the big hang-up is the high cost of getting the plastic from ‘here to there.’
The economy has been growing, leading to a shortage of both trucks and labor. As a result, trucking prices have gone up. Add to that the current steep increases in fuel costs that must be passed on. When trucking lightweight materials, even full loads of plastic can be problematic from a trucking cost perspective. Hence the logistics department’s eagle eye on the bottom line for all trucked materials. “It is not practical to pay 13, 14 or even 15 cents a pound for shipping part-trailer loads. Shipping a load has to make economic sense,” Hayes explained.
Sadoff is also preparing ahead for another major recycling opportunity that will be arriving three to five years in the future, when the first of the growing number of large lithium ion electric car batteries in use wear out and will need to be replaced. “We would like to be ready with a workable plan to recycle the future flood of lithium ion batteries safely and completely. We have a couple of downstreams we are evaluating now for lithium ion battery recycling.”
There are inherent dangers in simply handling lithium ion batteries. “They can burst into flame or explode if punctured.”
“We need to look at ways to make it easier and cheaper to recover and reuse these materials, rather than simply mining fresh product at a high social cost.” Much of the lithium used in the US currently comes from three countries high in the Andes Mountains in South America. Much of the world’s cobalt, also used in the existing technology for producing lithium ion batteries, comes from the politically unstable Democratic Republic of the Congo. Recycling these valuable metals will help to ensure that adequate amounts remain available as our need for them surges in coming years.
Sadoff is well positioned be in the forefront of that effort.