tirsdag 2. mars 2010

CloudBlue’s growth calls attention to mounting e-waste problem

CloudBlue Technologies, a company that manages the disposal of e-waste — thrown away electronics ranging from laptops to medical equipment components — says it has just landed a second round of financing, as well as 25 new Fortune 500 clients in the last year, calling attention to a growing yet oft-neglected problem.
The company’s new recruits come from a range of sectors, including insurance, media, manufacturing, finance and healthcare. In today’s knowledge economy, no industry is immune from e-waste. Businesses lacking computers and mobile phones are unheard of, regardless of size. And all of these electronics need to periodically be replaced. In the past, their predecessors would have ended up in landfills despite major opportunities for recycling and reuse — not to mention the toxic or hazardous materials many of them contain.
But companies big and small are running out of excuses for this behavior. New government environmental regulations are requiring strict e-waste disposal measures and non-compliance comes at a hefty price. While this is bad news for enterprises set in their ways, its a huge boon for companies like CloudBlue, which helps them shift course and mitigate their risk.
Based in Georgia, the company tracks every phase of e-waste disposal, from pickup to transportation to recycling. With 16 facilities around the world, it is able to send its own trucks to collect waste in an energy efficient manner that is guaranteed to comply with all regulations and dodge big fines.
E-waste presents several unique challenges. Not only do electronics contain many small, intricate components that need to be dealt with individually, most of them — especially in the enterprise space — contain proprietary information or identification tags that need to be thoroughly and responsibly erased before they are disposed of. CloudBlue takes care of all of these processes, it says.
By and large, the U.S. is behind when it comes to e-waste management. Several states have passed bans on e-waste in general landfills, which is a start, but by no means a solution. Europe covered this a long time ago. That said, the European Union is taking a lot of heat right now because recyclers are doing a poor job of removing toxic materials and properly extracting and processing the pricier metals.
Another big issue: Some e-waste disposal companies are simply shipping what they collect to developing countries where they rot in distant landfills, endangering nearby populations and crippling their own environmental efforts. For example, watchdog organization the Basel Action Network has just called out CRT Recycling for exporting tossed computer monitors to Indonesia. While the Environmental Protection Agency has done its best to regulate against this practice, objectionable shipments still make it through. CloudBlue assures its clients that none of their waste leaves the U.S., but it can’t turn this tide all by itself.
While it wouldn’t disclose the amount of its recent venture round, the company says it came from Riverwood Capital. It previously raised $9.92 million, including $3.57 million in December 2009 that may have been rolled into this current round.
Companies: CloudBlue Technologies, Riverwood Capital

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