Early April, Rye, New York-based Sims Metal Management announced its multiyear strategic growth plan, which focuses on introducing new business sectors as well as growing existing business, including its global electronics recycling business Sims Recycling Solutions (SRS), Tampa, Florida. As part of the plan, SRS aims to expand electronics recycling services, as well as become a leading electronics recycler of data or “cloud” storage devices and an equipment manufacturer supplier of recycled plastic.
As cloud-based companies are anticipated to grow, along with consumer electronics consumption habits, SRS Global President Ingrid Sinclair shares more about the company's plan to advance electronics recycling, as well as future expansion plans and strategic endeavors with recycled plastics in the Q&A that follows.
Sinclair was appointed global president February 2019. Previously, she served as vice president of recycling for Sims in the United States. Sinclair has been in the electronics recycling industry for more than 20 years and has spearheaded innovation in electronics recycling operations for 10 years.
Recycling Today (RT): Can you give an update on SRS’ electronics recycling operations? What are the company’s focuses in 2019 and beyond?
Ingrid Sinclair (IS): Our operations are doing well. With the advancement of the cloud, we see less and less material from a desktop environment and more from what would be considered from the cloud infrastructure. We expect that beyond 2019 we will see this trend continue.
RT: Are there any recent policy changes or proposed legislation relating to data privacy that electronics recyclers need to be aware of?
IS: Yes. We’re seeing more and more scrutiny from governments around the world in terms of data privacy, specifically as it relates to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation, which was launched in May of 2018. In addition, Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI), the organization that administers the R2 certification, is looking to update and revise the R2 standard.
RT: SRS has a goal to be the original equipment manufacturer supplier of choice for recycled plastic. What are some actions SRS is taking to meet higher demand from manufacturers for recycled plastic?
IS: Companies are focused on increasing capacity worldwide and they tend not to have a handle of what to do with the material once it reaches the end of its useful life. So, it is incumbent upon large publicly traded companies, like Sims Recycling Solutions, to help industries deal with their material scattered throughout the world. In terms of plastic, SRS has invested more than $1 million in advanced plastics separation to create a stream of plastics that is highly recyclable.
RT: What technology and partnerships is SRS leveraging to recover more plastic from electronics?
IS: Sims is working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), like HP, and our plastics recycling partners, like Lavergne Plastics, to create clean plastic streams that are highly recyclable. On an annual basis, SRS’ plastics recycling is greater than 20,000 metric tons and growing.
RT: With processing facilities across the globe, what are some SRS locations that are focusing on advancing electronics plastics recycling? How does SRS intersect with Sims' metals and municipal recycling business?
IS: Nashville, Tennessee, and Eindhoven, Netherlands, both have the advance plastics separation process, but all our sites play a part in the holistic recycling of material. Sims Recycling Solutions provides about 15 percent of the revenue of the company while doing substantially less than 15 percent of the overall volume. Sims has recently launched a One Sims campaign to integrate metals, e-recycling, energy and curbside to provide a suite of services for companies worldwide.
RT: How does SRS go about training new employees in the electronics recycling business? Does SRS have a focus on refurbishment as well?
IS: Our total global workforce is 1,401 employees. We offer on-the-job training, which includes our process shadowing, recyclables evaluation and asset refurbishment training programs. Since 2015, Sims looked to balance the revenue derived from commodities to the revenue derived from reuse and refurbishment. In the states, we have well exceeded those goals.
RT: What areas within the business does SRS plan to expand in the future?
IS: The plan is to expand the following three things: geographic footprint, our customer base and our capacity.