Questions about downstream vendors

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Once you get a list of downstream vendors from the recycler you spoke with, you have a bit of work ahead of you. There are some important follow up questions required to properly check out each vendor and the material they deal with. This article will examine each type of material and relevant questions to ask.

Circuit Board

High grade is generally circuit accepted as it is sent by OECD smelters. Recently OECD smelters started to accept low grade circuit board (like those found in CRT monitors). They only accept this grade of board if it pre-processed (removal of aluminum and steel etc). It is important to find out where this pre-processing happens. Does it happen at the vendors location, their downstream location, or do they not know. Often the low grade board is bought AS-IS by Chinese companies who do the pre-processing in unacceptable ways. So if the vendor only knows that their low grade board is going to Umicore in Belgium, but does not have knowledge of if and/or where the pre-processing occurs, this is a problem.

CRT Monitors

There are two main methods of recycling CRT monitors. Glass to Glass and Smelting.

Glass to Glass

The main question you need to follow up on is what happens to the lead cullet (the crushed glass) and the phosphor that they wash off it. If they do not wash the cullet of phosphor you need to find out who does. The next question will be what do they do with the phosphor. You will also want to know what they do with plastic casing and circuit board.


Direct smelting is going to be an easier method to verify. There is no phosphor or cullet issues. You will want to find out what they do with plastic (often used as feed stock) and the circuit board.

LCD Monitors

Verify where the mercury from the CCFL goes.


Verify where the mercury from the CCFL goes


Toner is a tricky item. It is not covered under the Basel Convention, and most companies like HP will not list the ingredients in toner. They say the ingredients are proprietary knowledge. Toner does have a level of flammability. Some incinerators will not handle this material because of that. This flammability issues could be interpreted has hazardous waste under the Basel Convention but is not at this time.

Most toner recyclers will tell you a lot about refurbishment of cartridges, but they really need to be asked about what they do with broken or obsolete cartridges. Shipping overseas should be critically reviewed. BAN, although they do not support incineration or landfills, have three vendors they consider good, but one of them landfills and the other two incinerate.