Monday, April 26, 2010

Yes, YOU can be just like Gordon Gekko!

I remember watching the movie 'Wall Street' and was awestruck as Michael Douglas made important business deals on his cell phone. In those days, anyone who had a cell phone was surely a rich person. Now days, everyone has a cell phone and at least one or two junkers in the drawer.

Did you know that old cell phones have a great recycling value? They are chock full of the good stuff-gold, Lithium batteries and more. Plus, most of the time they can be resold and reused without having to scrap them.

Cell phone buyers are coming out of the woodwork and we've dealt with a few of them with good results. So here's an idea-how about organizing a cell phone fundraiser for your local school or church? Set up a recycling box and have folks drop their old cell phones, PDA's, GPS units, mp3 players and other small electronic devices into it. Run the drive for a month or so and ship the items to buyers (buyers usually pay shipping cost) and enjoy the profits. Some of our cell phone fundraisers have easily grossed $2,000 for a  month long event. Not bad money for very little effort on everyone's part.

Oh yeah- if you happen to get a classic phone like Michael Douglas used, sell it on ebay and help a Gordon Gekko wannabe!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maximizing profits from recycling electronic junk

If you recycle computers, you already know that mother boards are worth around $2.50 lb. We leave everything we can on the board-aluminum heat sinks, chips, etc. because these items are worth less money per pound taken off of the board (aluminum brings about .70/lb), so it makes sense to leave them on the board and get $2.50/lb for all of it......that is when you are selling the boards whole.

I have been doing some research about all the components on a mother board to figure out why someone would pay $2.50 a pound for them. I found that these boards go to companies that remove all the components and refine them individually. In my research I found the the IC chips, gold plated connector pins and other items are worth a lot more than $2.50/lb if sold in individual lots. For example, I found a buyer for the IC chips alone that was willing to pay between $5 and $10 per pound just for them!

Now my wheels started turning. Why sell the boards whole when I could make a lot more money by taking all the components off them and selling them individually? The first thing that comes to mind is how does a person take these items off the board? I watched a really awful video of some folks in China who heated the boards over an open fire to melt the solder so the parts will fall off. This method is clearly unsafe due to the noxious fumes and gasses that are produced by heating/burning the boards over an open flame.

After some more research, I found that a preferred method is to scrape the components off the boards. A bonafide board scraping machine is quite expensive, so I began thinking of other ways to load a pc board into a machine, hit a button and a large blade would move across it thus scraping the components off. After much looking, I found that an electric log splitter could be modified to do this quite nicely and it would not require a lot of modifications to do it.

This type of log splitter can be purchased for around $300 and provides 4 tons of working pressure, which is more than enough to scrape the components off of a circuit board. Excuse my photoshop skills (below), but hopefully you can get an idea of how to modify the log splitter for scraping. Simply put, a stop is mounted on the far end of the splitter to keep the board in place; the moving part that was used to push logs is modified with a blade. The blade is set at the edge of the board, level with the top of the board. As the blade moves across, the components are simply scraped off. I found several different types of plow blades that are low cost at a local farm supply store. In choosing a blade you need to use something that is easy to modify and readily available.
 Somewhat crude, but very effective in my opinion. Now that the components have been removed from the boards, it all needs to be sorted into a few categories such as IC chips, connectors with gold plated pins (which most all motherboard connectors contain gold), aluminum (heat sinks), etc. To find buyers or just get an idea of what computer scrap is worth, go HERE and search. The web site is a little hard to navigate but you will get some very good information. Happy recycling!

In an upcoming segment, we will discuss in detail how to find more buyers for all types of your recycled electronic components. Stay tuned!