Tech Dump, the nonprofit electronics recycler that also provides employment for people with criminal-and-substance abuse backgrounds, said it has processed 20 million pounds of e-waste since the enterprise was founded in 2011 by a couple online retail-business partners who wanted to start a jobs program and help reduce the backlog of material that is dangerous when landfilled or incinerated.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has estimated that about 35 million pounds of consumer electronics is collected and recycled annually, since new state law requiring proper disposal was enacted a decade ago.
Tech Dump has been one of the more aggressive players in an industry that also saw some recycling businesses fail during the commodity price swoon of 2015-16 for recovered steel, plastic,silver and other metals. The markets have recovered somewhat this year.
Tech Dump, and other survivors, increasingly have focused on higher-value repair-and-refurbish of laptops, PCs and other consumer electronics for sale to consumers. That is more profitable than recycling parts.
Tech Dump, which also expanded from a warehouse in Golden Valley to a second, larger facility in the Midway district of St. Paul, also has two locations for its Tech Discounts retail operation.
The company, which says it is Minnesota’s third-largest e-waste collector by volume, employs 54 people and has “graduated” 28 people over the years to higher-paying careers.
Tech Dump expects record revenue of $3.3 million this year.
A Tech Dump spokeswoman added that it its first “Cell Phone Summer” campaign yielded 1591 pounds of unused mobile devices, cords and cables. That was less than the one-ton goal.
The company learned that people are reluctant to turn in old phones because they do not know how to retrieve photos from older devices. In response, Tech Dump is rolling out a data-recovery service for cell phones.