Durham’s Alchemists: Triangle Ecycling

TEIn March 2012 the sustainable underground gained a powerful new way station in Durham, North Carolina. No, they haven’t figured out how to transmute lead into gold. What the 21st century alchemists at Triangle Ecycling (TE) are doing is even better. Yes, better than gold. Right here in the good old Bull City in the heart of the American Tobacco Historic District, at 905 Jackie Robinson Drive, e-waste is being converted into education. We are a rich city indeed!

Triangle Ecycling’s founder, Larry Herst, set out with the intention of helping kids and giving back to the community. Using as his guide the triple bottom line — with its emphasis on people, planet and profit — he built a business model that offers a positive solution to multiple community challenges and does so in a manner that is nothing short of remarkable.

Here’s how it works:

TE collects e-waste from businesses, organizations and individuals. You know the stuff: that detritus of the technological revolution gathering dust in our storage closets or, worse, buried in our landfills. A 2009 report by the Environmental Protection Agency found that “approximately 2.37 million short tons of electronics were ready for end-of-life management, representing an increase of more than 120% compared to 1999.” Of this number, only “25% of electronics were collected for recycling, with computers collected at the highest rate (38%)” (1). Since opening its doors, TE has refurbished or recycled over 35 tons of e-waste.

servicesTE then uses the e-waste as fuel for their sustainable education lab. Through their E-Scholar Program and in partnership with Durham Public Schools, TE prepares the younger generation for green jobs, offering students hands on learning about computer refurbishing and recycling as well as teaching them about the environmental and humanitarian issues surrounding e-waste, including the value of sustainable business models.

Pretty darn cool, isn’t it? Our electronics stay out of landfills, our children are given the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education they are going to need to succeed in the modern world, and oh, yeah, you can get a mean deal on a used laptop through TE’s eBay store.

And those are only the broad strokes. All along the way, Triangle Ecycling doesn’t miss an opportunity to give back to the community, both at the level of planet and of people:

  • Individuals benefit by having a socially responsible, affordable place to recycle their used electronics.
  • Companies benefit by turning the issue of e-waste from a logistics problem to a community outreach initiative, funding the E-Scholar program with a minimal collection fee and the intrinsic value of their old electronics.
  • Local organizations such as Habitat for Humanity ReStore and the PTA Thrift Shop benefit from free pick-up and e-waste recycling. TROSA benefits by providing TE’s moving services. N.C. Arts in Action benefits from TE’s facilities by utilizing free office space.
  • The City of Durham benefits because TE acts as a backup facility to the city’s Transfer Station, which has stopped taking e-waste delivered by businesses and non-profit organizations and begun referring those people to TE.
  • The City of Durham Fire department benefits from TE’s provision of part-time contractor work to fire fighters.
  • Durham Public Schools benefit from TE’s donation of 10% of their profits to the school system.
  • Students benefit from hands-on STEM training that will prepare them for future success.
  • America benefits from the STEM training, ensuring that we remain competitive in the new global economy.
  • Global Electric Electronics Processing (geep), a best-in-class service provider focused on reverse supply chain solutions for telecom and IT products, benefits by handling all of TE’s recycling jobs.
  • The earth benefits from a reduced e-waste footprint.

So where’s the profit in all of this? Larry explains it this way in TE’s 2012 Sustainability Report: “Performance is a financial measure of revenue generated through collection fees, recycling operations and our eBay Store. Without it we cannot continue but it is not our primary driver. Our performance philosophy is that if we keep growing our internship program and people/planet metrics, the outcome will be sustainable performance.”

kane-county-electronics-recycling  Truckin’ Movers is honored to partner with Triangle Ecycling and to bring to our customers the opportunity to have their used electronics transported free of charge to TE, where you can rest assured they will be handled securely and ethically. For a list of the items TE takes, click here.

If we all do our part in this incredibly sustainable enterprise, we’re certain to reap rewards greater than gold.

© Truckin’ Movers Corporation and truckinmovers.com, 2013.


(1) via Statistics on the Management of Used and End-of-Life Electronics | eCycling | US EPA.
(2) images courtesy of Chicago Electronics Recycling.

Go Green, Buy Local: Shimar Recycling

Remember that Simpsons episode where Lisa and Bart create a medieval castle in their backyard from cardboard boxes?  Our children could certainly build a village in the Truckin’ Movers back lot with all of the moving boxes that we handle as a moving and storage services company.  But we are happy to share that we don’t discard them by melting them down to a messy pulp with the garden hose, as did Lisa and Bart!

At Truckin’ Movers we first try very hard to get the full lifecycle out of every box.  We offer reused and recycled packing supplies at a lower rate than new packing supplies and we’ll also buy back your used boxes after your move.  But for every box, there is ultimately an end to its useful life, and it is then that our good friends at Shimar Recyling step in to turn those brown boxes green.

Shimar Recycling is about as local as it gets for us, right down Harvest Road from Truckin’ Movers Durham, NC headquarters.  Their mission is to optimize their clients’ recycling systems to maximize the potential benefits in terms of cost savings, conservation of natural resources, and contribution to the development of sustainable community.  In addition to cardboard recycling, Shimar handles all of the other items that come into the collection center we make available to our employees for their personal as well as Truckin’ Movers’ recyclables.  Over the years they’ve helped us to recycle everything from office paper to aluminum, plastic and glass bottles and cans to styrofoam, batteries and old electronics.

It’s nice to know that much of the waste generated at Truckin’ Movers is being recycled.  It’s also nice to know that the money we are spending on this green initiative is being locally recycled.

© Truckin’ Movers Corporation and truckinmovers.com, 2012.

Go Green, Buy Local: Carolina Biodiesel

Truckin’ Movers is proud to be a green moving and storage company.  The foundation of our green moving services is our biodiesel trucks.  Biodiesel burns much cleaner than regular diesel, contains no sulfur, and is nearly carbon neutral.

In addition to using biodiesel, our trucks optimize their green-value even further by fueling at our solar-powered in-house fueling station.  We are proud to be a company that is using green technologies, but we could never do so without the help of local partners.  In particular, we are fortunate to share the great Bull City with Carolina Biodiesel, LLC, a Southern Durham alternative fuel solutions and biodiesel distributor from whom we purchase our trucks’ biodiesel.

This is truly a green partnership all around — not only because of the environmental benefits of burning biodiesel, but because the fuel we use doesn’t carry the same environmental impact that it would if it had to be shipped to us from a traditional fuel distributor.  Further, as we discussed last week, there is great economic value in keeping the fuel dollars Truckin’ Movers must expend as a moving company in the local economy.

Thank you Carolina Biodiesel!  Keep on truckin’!

© Truckin’ Movers Corporation and truckinmovers.com, 2012.

Buy Local: The Need for Money Speed

“Buy local” is a hot message right now.  Whether at the farmer’s market or our neighborhood Mom & Pop grocery, we have all read the sign urging us to support local business.  It turns out that keeping money in town may make economic sense not only for the shops on Main Street, but for the rest of us as well.

Here’s how it works.  On Friday, I cash my paycheck from Truckin’ Movers and head out for a well-earned meal in Durham, NC.  I have the choice of Elmo’s, a locally owned and operated diner, or Chili’s, a nationwide chain.  If I choose Elmo’s, then the $20 I pay for my meal goes into a local pocket rather than being swept out of town into the bottom line of Brinker International, headquartered in Dallas, TX.  Elmo’s then uses my $20 on Saturday morning at the Durham County Farmer’s Market to purchase veggies from Cheek Road Grown Produce, who in turn decides that Monday to use the $20 to hire an extra farm hand.

Money serves the most good when it moves quickly from hand-to-hand because each person who holds the money has been able to benefit from what it can purchase for them.  The higher the velocity of money, or the faster is its circulation speed, the greater will be the number of people who benefit from that money.

In 2009, Time reported on an interesting case in a region in Germany that has been using its own currency, equivalent to the Euro.  Evidence shows that the local currency “has three times the velocity of the Euro, circling through the economy an average of eighteen times a year as opposed to six” (click here for the full article).

For over thirty-five years, Truckin’ Movers, your locally owned and operated moving and storage company has been proud to participate in the regional economy, serving the greater Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina area.  Next week we’ll take a look at two of our favorite in-town vendor partnerships and show you how we’re doing our part for a high-velocity local currency.

© Truckin’ Movers Corporation and truckinmovers.com, 2012.