Steven Napoli, Terra founder (Photo: Submitted)
The question about electronic waste was first posed to Nashvillian Stephen Napoli by his then 8-year-old-daughter. Where would her mother’s old iPhone, with a shattered screen, go when they replaced it? How would it be recycled? He lacked an answer.
And what about the old video camera, the Karaoke machine, old computers, the old television and other equipment in their home go, he wondered?
Shortly after, Napoli met with a former colleague who was leading Tri-Star Recycling in Nashville and began to consider the marketing challenges the business faced. As a former sales and marketing professional, Napoli knew the growing interest among corporations to emphasize their own focus on sustainability, it was just a matter of connecting them to qualified recyclers.
Napoli developed a new company, Terra, to connect certified electronic waste recycling firms with companies seeking to improve their waste methods. The Terra alliance helps waste managers access clients and helps companies and consumers recycle electronic waste effectively.
“Here is a mechanism that can make things simple for business,” Napoli said. “It’s the opportunity to say, ‘We do take electronic waste seriously.’ It gives them an avenue to be able to say, ‘Yes, we are sustainable in the area of electronics.'”
Terra compiles local operating recycling firms that meet the R-2, or Responsible Recycling, certification, a standard developed by the Sustainable Electronics Recycling International (SERI) nonprofit that Napoli describes as the “gold standard” in recycling. The firms seek to recycle as much as possible and reuse still valuable components, Napoli said.
“If they are going to recycle electronics they have got to do it the right way,” he said.
For consumers, Terra creates a network of destinations where they can drop off old electronics for recycling.
Electronic waste comprises a small percentage of the waste stream but produces the majority of toxins, Napoli said. Those toxins affect air, soil and water which impacts animals, food and water supply. Citing the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy, Napoli said there were 50 million tons of e-waste globally in 2018, with 120 million tons expected by 2050, waste that could be recycled.
“E-waste is one of those things that gets lost in the shuffle,” Napoli said. “It’s not an area of sustainability initiatives that gets a lot of attention…. The problem with e-waste and the dangers they represent not only to human health and the environment is going to grow exponentially.”
Reach Jamie McGee at 615-259-8071 and on Twitter @JamieMcGee_.
Read or Share this story: https://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2019/05/28/nashville-company-terra-seeks-boost-e-waste-recycling-through-new-alliance/3642592002/