Recycling and the state of sustainable new product design:

Recently AVA toured the Design 2 Part Design & Contract Manufacturers Chicagoland tradeshow at the Schaumburg Convention Center and were curious to find out how many of the exhibitors were knowledgeable about their company’s use of recycled materials in new product design. I found that only a handful could reliably comment and these were mostly metal fabricators which at least could and should be as we expected. But I was surprised that many of the hi-tech equipment manufacturers (or at least the sales staff) really weren’t sure. Also I was a bit surprised that many of the circuit board manufacturers were not up to date about news coming from overseas over past months about rare earth minerals & metals and of course the ‘conflict minerals’. Much of the earth’s’ supply of these appear to be bound up in China (which recently indicated that it would be scaling back exports sharply). In fact Greenbiz has been reporting monthly on how corporate giants such as Honda, Hitachi, GE, HP, Intel, Unilever and Maersk are all making strategic plans to respond to rare earth metals (also known as REM) global shortage anticipated in the next few years. Just last week Greenbiz reporter Per Meilstrup published an article called “The Resource Crisis: Closer to the Edge” which summed up what looks to be a new global materials panic over these metals which are critical for the U.S.supply chain for items we use, ranging from Smart phones and flat screen monitors to computers and hybrid Electronic Vehicle (EV)batteries. His article sites a recent McKinsey report entitled “Resource Revolution” in which it is predicted that very soon most major manufacturers will be scrambling to address this ‘resource shock’ head on. Most likely it is predicted that recycling these minerals from existing products will become the first line of defense. The GOOD NEWS in all of this at least from the manufacturing perspective, is that jobs are returning to US soil from Asia, China’s stranglehold on certain commodities will play out in their favor in the short term. However it’s my considered opinion that in the long run many companies will embrace a ‘recycled materials’ option. Perhaps in coming years we will see the seal on our products saying not only “Made In America” but “Made in America With 100% Recycled Material” And so We dream! Over & out for now Scrapdawg http://www.avarecycling.com http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/05/01/resource-crisis-closer-edge?utm_source=E-News+from+GreenBiz&utm_campaign=9beca511a4-GreenBuzz-2012-05-07&utm_medium=email Other related articles: http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/04/23/honda-debuts-rare-earth-recycling-cars http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2012/04/04/hp-intel-and-ge-start-fund-conflict-free-minerals-electronics

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