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Dear Helen:

Your question is a classic one that, unfortunately, is still a valid one to
ask. It all comes down to whether there is a business history. In the
simplest case, the genuine recyclers usually have a substantive business
history with respect to their sources and markets and can usually provide
good customer and market references. The tough cases are those without a
significant business history, especially with respect to hard-to-recycle and
nascent recyclable products such as electronic discards. And Alan Muller,
in a separate response to your message, is quite right in pointing out that
there is an endless supply of recycling "scams" and the most difficult cases
to spot are those where the promoter actually believes his own B**S**.

So here is my suggested action checklist for whatever its worth:

1. Are there any verifiable and genuine client references?

2. Are there verifiable markets? Would the vendor disclose them if you are
willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement?

3. Have any problems been reported with the vendor to state environmental
agencies, either yours or in the vendor's home region or, are they at least
familiar with this company?

4. Are there are any reputable 3rd parties that are familiar with the vendor
or what the vendor is promoting and are willing to say anything positive or

5. Will the vendor without any business history be willing to provide some
form of tangible assurance of performance?

If the answer is no to all, then I'd consider the company a very high risk.
If the company is really authentic, then they must recognize that the
absence of a significant business history is a key obstacle that they must
recognize and be willing to take steps to overcome by addressing at least
some, if not all, of the action items listed above. If all a company is
willing to do is flash you a million dollar smile and say "trust me - it
does work" then I'd pass - period.

Roger M. Guttentag

----- Original Message -----
From: Helen Spiegelman <hspie@no.address>
To: <greenyes@no.address>
Sent: Sunday, February 22, 2004 10:16 AM
Subject: [greenyes] BONA FIDE RECYCLERS?

> Hi all,
> I'm on the program committee for a recycling conference here in BC in
> I am wanting to organize a session that would provide businesses &
> organizations helpful advice on CHOOSING A RECYCLER.
> How can you tell a bona-fide recycler from a fly-by-night?
> EXAMPLE: our regional district was contacted by a woman wanting to collect
> cellphones as a fund-raiser for a charity. How should she go about
> where to take the cellphones she collects?
> EXAMPLE: a local company here in the Vancouver area has been spamming
> advertisements for a program that will "revive and resuscitate any 'dead'
> disposable (non-rechargeable) alkaline batteries, for later re-use". He
> signed up several dozen progressive organizations (environment groups,
> local elected officials, and counter-cultural merchants) who take back
> batteries -- and then purchase "revived" batteries from this contractor
> sale to their customers. How do these merchants/organizations know if this
> guy's process and business are legit?
> I can see the relevance of Basel Action Network's "Pledge of True
> Stewardship" certification program (and I will be following up with Sarah
> and or Jim on this tomorrow) but I wonder if anyone else has thoughts
> this.
> The target audience for this session is NOT local governments (issuing
> for recycling contracts) but rather businesses that want to recycle their
> by-product as well as charities or community groups that want to help the
> community by providing a recycling service for some specific product.
> Thoughts?
> Helen.

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