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What It Takes To Truly Delete Data

Jan 30, 2017

In February of 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of IDNYC, a municipal identification card primarily designed to ease bureaucratic burdens for the city's immigrant population. When the card became available a year later, de Blasio described the program as "fraud-proof, secure and appealing to anyone."

Now privacy advocates and progressives are worried that it also may be appealing to Donald Trump. The president-elect has said he plans to deport up to three million undocumented immigrants, and immigrant advocates are concerned the database of immigrants may be a good place to start. That combined with de Blasio’s vow that New York will remain a sanctuary city has brought renewed attention to the security of the database. In December, a court barred the city from deleting the data to protect users’ identities and an ongoing lawsuit ensures that the records continue to be retained today. But there’s an urgent question about the records, fundamental to understanding not just the fate of the data for IDNYC, but all consumer data in the hands of third parties, be they private companies or state departments: Can an entire dataset of important information really be deleted, just like that?

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Black Women's Blueprint

May 1, 2014

Dear Bill Monteleone,

On behalf of Black Women's Blueprint, I want to thank you for your charitable donations and collaboration with Materials for the Arts, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, as well as, the NYC Department of Education. Because of your generosity, Black Women's Blueprint can further engage and support our targeted population in visual arts, theater, spoken word, community education, counseling, and support groups, sister circle and healing circle, in order to address the issue of rape and sexual abuse in communities of color. Our organization also teaches entrepreneurial skills to help girls and women achieve economic autonomy.

We used your Household Item donation to bolster and improve our Museum ofWome:p's resistance, as well as our leisure office spaces. The continued success, and outreach of our organization would not be possible without the patronage of people like yourself.

Thank you again for your commitment in sustaining the arts in New York City. If you wish to learn more about us, please feel free to contact us or to visit us at: www.blackwomensblueprint.org.

Sincerely,
Joanna Alvarez

 

NYC Dept of Cultural Affairs

April 24, 2014

Dear Bill Monteleone,

Thank you for your generous donation to Materials for the Arts. We appreciate the time and energy you have given in order to arrange for this donation. On behalf of the over 4,600 member organizations of MFTA and the hundreds of thousands of individuals they serve, we welcome you as a new donor.

In accordance with the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service, it is the privilege and duty of the donor to determine the fair market value of a donation of property. If there is a discrepancy between our list and your donation, please contact us at 718-729-3001. As itemized below you valued your donation on Mar 05, 2014 at $1500.00 for which no goods or services were provided in consideration of this gift:

37 boxes of decorative items, 2 audio I video supplies To learn more about our mission go to nyc.gov/mtta. Once again, thank you for your in-kind donation to Materials for the Arts.

Harriet Taub
Director, Materials for the Arts ref: 43001

 

Wingspan Arts

March 11, 2014

Dear Mr. Montelone,

Hello! I hope you're having a great day. I'm Sam, a teaching artist at Wingspan Arts, writing with a warm thank you for the supplies I recently received from Materials for the Arts. Just to tell you a little about us- Our mission is to reach out and expose diverse groups, especially young audiences, to all forms of the performing, visual, media and literary arts. We accomplish this by engaging professional artist-educators (that's where I fit in!) who are inspired by the work they do and have a unique gift for sharing that inspiration with students. Since our founding in 2001, thousands of children across the New York Metro Region have benefited from Wingspan Arts customized programs, which utilize a wide spectrum of arts disciplines to address a variety of developmental areas.

At Materials for the Arts, I was the recipient of a wire rack. This will help me organize supplies during my classes, which is something that makes my whole job easier. I love that we are recycling materials that may have otherwise ended up in the landfill, and I make a point to let my students know that, which is yet another fabulous teachable moment.

Your donation has made for a happier, more art-filled world! We can't thank you enough.

Warm regards,
Sam Kelly
Teaching Artist

 

Computer Mouse Ditches the Battery

February 12, 2014

Sure, that wireless computer mouse of yours is a handy way to navigate the web on your laptop without giving yourself carpal tunnel. But the battery it is uses, sadly, isn’t doing anything good for the environment. Enter Genius’s new DX-ECO, believed to be the world’s first battery-free wireless mouse.

Inhabitat reports that this model does away with wasteful AAAs and those heavier lithium-ions with an electric double-layer ultracapacitor that requires no more than a quick, three-minute charge each day to keep you scrolling and clicking to your heart’s content. The device is good for 100,000 charges.

The mouse features a bi-directional 2.4GHz connection that creates a long leash for you and your mousing activities — letting you work up to 15 meters (around 50 feet) away from your computer (in case, perhaps, you’d like to navigate your desktop from across the room). An anti-interference mechanism helps to ensure uninterrupted functionality and smoothness, regardless of whoever may be working around you at the coffee shop, using whatever other wireless mouse.

The mouse offers four hot keys: Previous/Next Page, Flying Scroll and dpi adjust between 800 and 1600 dpi. You get “flying scroll” to “hyper scroll” document browsing, plus versatility, as Genius says that this peripheral works without a hitch on such typically problematic surfaces as dusted glass, marble, carept, and even the sofa. So lounge away, mouse users.

An ergonomic design featuring a rubber comfort device on the thumb grip helps to ensure that you won’t wear out your digits for more important pursuits — such as, you know, video games — and the mouse’s super mini receiver makes storage easy while preventing breakage. The DX-ECO is part of the Genius BlueEye DX-ECO family of products and is available for $39.99.

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New Mac Pro uses 74% less aluminum and steel, 68% less energy than previous generations

January 3, 2014

With OS X Mavericks, Apple has made a big effort on the software side to make its computers more energy-efficient and extend their lives. On the hardware side, they recently released a completely redesigned version of their top-of-the-line professional workstation, the Mac Pro. There too they tried to make things as streamlined and efficient as possible without compromising performance. The results are pretty impressive.

The new Mac Pro features 74% reduction in aluminum and steel use, and 84% less packaging by weight compared to the old version. That's pretty significant since, according to Apple, about 2/3 of the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions of a computer like the Mac Pro come from production, not use.

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Apple brings manufacturing back to the US.

November 12, 2013

We're sure that you're as excited as we are about the new Apple Mac Pro. Equally as fascinating as the end result are the amazing developments in manufacturing Apple pioneered to bring this machine to us.

As computers become more powerful, what was once state of the art becomes obsolete. As always, never throw out your end of life eWaste. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Learn more about the new Mac Pro

 

Google crushes, shreds old hard drives to prevent data leakage

July 25, 2013

Network World - Google is shedding some of the secrecy around its data center practices, with a new video that shows extensive security measures and the destruction of old hard drives to prevent leakage of customer data.

Google "rigorously tracks the location and status" of each hard drive, destroying failed hard drives with a multistep process before gathering the mangled bits in boxes to send off to recycling centers.

LIFE AT GOOGLE: Visiting the Googleplex

"One device that is used to destroy old hard drives is known as the crusher," the narrator of a Google video says. "A steel piston is pushed through the center of the drive and the platters are deformed, making them unreadable."

Next, the video shows a powerful shredder spewing out pieces of drives used to hold customer data. "As you can see no one will be likely to get Google's customer data from these drives," the narrator states. Next, we see a half-dozen or so boxes filled with shredded pieces of former hard drives, ready to be shipped off to recycling centers.

Google, of course, has been under fire for collecting and storing private data, including search records and location data from Android phones. The video makes clear that it's unlikely Google will ever lose data it intends to store.

Google was operating more than 30 data centers in the United States and overseas as of 2008, according to an article in Data Center Knowledge. Google's new video shows the operations of one, in Hamina, Finland, and describes practices used broadly across all of Google's data centers. However, Google said there are "additional safeguards that we do not disclose publicly."

Each data center has "thousands upon thousands of machines" serving up search results, e-commerce transactions, or services for Google Apps customers. Each server is custom-made by Google with a stripped-down version of Linux, holding only the necessary systems and hardware to do its specific job, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities.

Google said all customer data is "stored in multiple locations to help ensure reliability. ... The files that store data are given random file names and are not stored in clear text, so they're not humanly readable."

After old drives are destroyed, Google says it retains extra backups on tape drives, providing "a level of redundancy to help safeguard its customers' data."

The tape storage came in handy a couple months ago after a Gmail outage that deleted email from thousands of accounts.

Google uploaded the video to YouTube on April 13, before last week's Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud outage, but then released a blog about the video on Friday, the day after the Amazon outage.

Google data centers connect to the Internet with multiple, redundant high-speed fiber optic cables to protect against failure, and have emergency backup generators in case of power outages. Customer data access automatically shifts form one data center to another in the event of fire.

The issue with Amazon was a different one, though. Amazon's outage stemmed from what it called a "networking event" that "triggered a large amount of re-mirroring" of storage volumes, creating a capacity shortage and taking virtual machines offline.

The Google video places much of its emphasis on physical security measures. Access to data center locations is tightly controlled, with no public tours or site visits. Cars are verified upon entry at a checkpoint manned around the clock, while difficult-to-forge badges are used for access inside the buildings. Some data centers even use iris scans to verify employees' identities.

Automated video analytics detect anomalies and alert security staff, and some data centers use "sophisticated thermal imaging cameras" to identify potential intruders by their heat signatures. Google security staff use carts, jeeps and scooters to respond to problems and maintain relationships with local law enforcement in case police backup is needed.

By Jon Brodkin, Network World

Green Chip Recycling Joins Earth Day Recycling Event

April 24, 2013

On April 20th Green Chip Recycling joined New York City Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Maspeth Federal Saving Bank, COMET (Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the 104th Precinct in a free Earth Day recycling event.

Green Chip Recycling's own Bill Monteleone was on hand to walk students and volunteers through the electronic recycling process and help them understand the importance of keeping their old electronic equipment from ending up in landfills.

The following Wednesday Council woman Crowley said "I want to thank all the great sponsors that helped make Saturday's recycling event a success, all the recycled materials will avoid landfills and keep our city more sustainable in the future."

 

Unwanted Electronic Gear Rising in Toxic Piles

March 18, 2013

Last year, two inspectors from California's hazardous waste agency were visiting an electronics recycling company near Fresno for a routine review of paperwork when they came across a warehouse the size of a football field, packed with tens of thousands of old computer monitors and televisions.

The crumbling cardboard boxes, stacked in teetering rows, 9 feet high and 14 feet deep, were so sprawling that the inspectors needed cellphones to keep track of each other. The layer of broken glass on the floor and the lead-laden dust in the air was so thick that the inspectors soon left over safety concerns. Weeks later, the owner of the recycling company disappeared, abandoning the waste, and leaving behind a toxic hazard and a costly cleanup for the state and the warehouse's owner.

As recently as a few years ago, broken monitors and televisions like those piled in the warehouse were being recycled profitably. The big, glassy funnels inside these machines — known as cathode ray tubes, or CRTs — were melted down and turned into new ones.

But flat-screen technology has made those monitors and televisions obsolete, decimating the demand for the recycled tube glass used in them and creating what industry experts call a "glass tsunami" as stockpiles of the useless material accumulate across the country.

The predicament has highlighted how small changes in the marketplace can suddenly transform a product into a liability and demonstrates the difficulties that federal and state environmental regulators face in keeping up with these rapid shifts.

"Lots of smaller recyclers are in over their heads, and the risk that they might abandon their stockpiles is very real," said Jason Linnell of the Electronics Recycling Coordination Clearinghouse, an organization that represents state environmental regulators, electronics manufacturers and recyclers. In February, the group sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking for immediate help dealing with the rapidly growing stockpiles of the glass, much of which contains lead.

With so few buyers of the leaded glass from the old monitors and televisions, recyclers have collected payments from states and electronics companies to get rid of the old machines. A small number of recyclers have developed new technology for cleaning the lead from the tube glass, but the bulk of this waste is being stored, sent to landfills or smelters, or disposed of in other ways that experts say are environmentally destructive.

In 2004, recyclers were paid more than $200 a ton to provide glass from these monitors for use in new cathode ray tubes. The same companies now have to pay more than $200 a ton to get anyone to take the glass off their hands.

So instead of recycling the waste, many recyclers have been storing millions of the monitors in warehouses, according to industry officials and experts. The practice is sometimes illegal since there are federal limits on how long a company can house the tubes, which are environmentally dangerous. Each one can include up to eight pounds of lead.

The scrap metal industry estimates that the amount of electronic waste has more than doubled in the past five years.

A little over a decade ago, there were at least 12 plants in the United States and 13 more worldwide that were taking these old televisions and monitors and using the cathode ray tube glass to produce new tubes. But now, there are only two plants in India doing this work.

In 2009, after television broadcasters turned off their analog signals nationwide in favor of digital, millions of people threw away their old televisions and replaced them with sleeker flat-screen models. Since then, thousands of pounds of old televisions and other electronic waste have been surreptitiously unloaded at landfills in Nevada and Ohio and on roadsides in California and Maine.

Most experts say that the larger solution to the growing electronic waste problem is for technology companies to design products that last longer, use fewer toxic components and are more easily recycled. Much of the industry, however, seems to be heading in the opposite direction.

Cathode ray tubes have been largely replaced by flat panels that use fluorescent lights with highly toxic mercury in them, said Jim Puckett, director of Basel Action Network, an environmental advocacy group. Used panel screens from LCD televisions and monitors, for example, do not have much recycling value, so many recyclers are sending them to landfills.

State and federal environmental policies have also become victims of their own success. Over the past decade, environmental regulators have promoted "take-back" programs to persuade people to hand in the more than 200 million old televisions and broken computer monitors that Americans are thought to have stored away in closets, garages and basements.

The same programs have courted businesses to divert their electronic waste away from landfills to avoid the hazardous chemicals in this toxic trash from leaching into groundwater. More than 290,000 tons of the high-tech castoffs are now directed away from landfills and toward recyclers each year.

"The problem now is that the collection of this waste has never been higher, but demand for the glass that comes from it has never been lower," said Neil Peters-Michaud, the chief executive of Cascade Asset Management, a recycling company.

Roughly 660 million pounds of the glass is being stored in warehouses across the country, and it will cost $85 million to $360 million to responsibly recycle it, according to a report released in December by TransparentPlanet, an organization focused on electronic waste research.

The stockpiling problem is especially worrisome to electronics companies and to state and federal officials since they might have to pick up part of the tab if the stockpiles were abandoned and declared federal Superfund sites.

At least 22 states have laws that make electronics manufacturers like Sony, Toshiba and Apple financially responsible for recycling their old products. But lack of oversight of these programs has led to rampant fraud. In one tactic, quietly known in the industry as "paper transactions," recyclers buy paperwork to indicate that they collected a certain amount of electronic waste that they never actually collected.

The Obama administration, more than any of its predecessors, has strengthened oversight of electronic waste. In 2012, the General Services Administration enacted rules discouraging all agencies and federal contractors from disposing of it in landfills. The federal government, which is among the world's largest producer of electronic waste, disposes more than 10,000 computers a week on average.

Federal agencies are failing to sufficiently track their electronic waste, and large amounts of it are still being disposed of through public or online auctions, according to a Government Accountability Office report last year. In these auctions, the waste is often sold to a first layer of contractors who promise to handle it appropriately, only to have the most toxic portion subsequently sold to subcontractors who move it around as they wish.

Some of this waste is dumped illegally in developing countries, the G.A.O. found. Congress is considering legislation to ban certain types of unprocessed and nonworking electronics and electronic waste from being exported to developing countries from the United States.

Recyclers say there is still money to be made on processing the old monitors and televisions if companies charge a price that more genuinely reflects the expense of disposing of the glass properly. But practices like "greenwashing," whereby companies pretend to engage in environmentally responsible disposal practices, hinder such progress.

"They're skimming off the computers, cellphones and printers that can be recycled profitably because they have more precious metals," said Karrie Gibson, the chief executive of Vintage Tech Recyclers. "Then they stockpile the CRTs, or dump it in landfills or abroad."

The sheer quantity of the glass accumulating at some recycling plants has contributed to environmental and workplace safety problems. In Yuma, Ariz., for example, Dlubak Glass, one of the country's largest recyclers of glass from televisions and monitors, found itself overwhelmed.

When state regulators visited the site in 2009, they found a mountain of the lead-rich glass, several stories tall. Dust from the shimmering mound of recycled glass had contaminated the surrounding soil, including a nearby orchard, with lead at 75 times the federal limit, according to state documents.

"We have it entirely under control now," said Herb Schall, a Dlubak plant manager.

In September, California passed an emergency measure allowing companies to send monitors and televisions to hazardous landfills for the next two years.

Charlotte Fadipe, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, said her office's investigation of the abandoned warehouse near Fresno is continuing, and investigators are still trying to locate Charles Li, the owner of the company, TRI Products.

Over the past four years, TRI has been paid more than $1 million by the state to recycle electronic waste from local schools, hospitals and federal agencies, including the F.B.I., the I.R.S. and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to state and company documents.

After a reporter found him to be running another electronic waste disposal company, Mr. Li did not respond. But when he was contacted online by another recycler and asked whether he was still looking to buy electronic waste, he immediately replied yes, with one caveat.

"Right now, we can take PC, server, telephone, printer and household e-waste," he wrote. "I cannot take your CRT/TV as e-waste because we don't have equipment to recycle the tubes."

By Ian Urbina, The New York Times

U.S. Bids Farewell to the 75-Watt Incandescent Light Bulb

January 2013

As of January 1, traditional 75-watt incandescent light bulbs can no longer be manufactured in the United States, continuing a national transition to more efficient lighting by 2014.

The first phase of the new federal light bulb standards, as set forth in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, went into effect last January with traditional 100-watt bulbs being phased out (though Congress de-funded the enforcement of those standards at the end of 2011). Under the regulations, all bulbs must be 27 percent more efficient. (See related post: "LED Holiday Lights Boost the Season's Energy Efficiency.") That means a bulb that used to use 75 watts must now use fewer than 53.

Conventional incandescent light bulbs tend to cost less up front, but waste more money and energy over the long haul. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes that incandescent bulbs waste 90 percent of the electricity they use through emitted heat. On the cost front, Consumer Reports found, for example, that a $40 Philips AmbientLED bulb can save $160 in electricity and replacement bulbs when used in place of a 75-watt incandescent.

Shoppers in the U.S. are learning, via product labeling and public information efforts, to look for lumens (a measure of brightness) rather than watts (how much power the bulb uses) when buying light bulbs. (See related quiz: "What You Don't Know About Energy-Efficient Lighting.") The equivalent of an old 75-watt bulb produces a minimum of 1,100 lumens.

The EPA notes in a fact sheet that incandescents aren't going away completely. Many halogen bulbs, which are incandescent, meet the new regulations (but they won't last as long as LEDs and CFLs). To get a sense of the impact you can make by replacing traditional light bulbs with more efficient ones in your home, check out the Light Bulb Savings Calculator.

By Christina Nunez, National Geographic

Greenpeace Issues Latest Green Electronics Guide

January 2013

Greenpeace International has released the 18th edition of its Guide to Greener Electronics, which evaluates the efforts of large consumer electronics companies to lessen their impact on the environment. Included in the report is how these companies are faring when it comes to product life cycle, avoidance of hazardous substances in products and offering consumers take-back programs in locales where there are no extended producer responsibility laws.

"While the industry overall has taken several strides in the right direction, crucial and growing problems remain: more people around the world are gaining access to electronic devices, and while proper electronic take-back programs proliferate, the speed of collection is not keeping pace with the rate of consumption, creating ever greater amounts of toxic e-waste," reads a blog post from Greenpeace analyst Casey Harrell introducing the report.

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

E-scrap Legislative Progress Continued in 2012

April 18, 2012

Legislatures across the country continued to focus on electronic scrap this past year, introducing approximately 40 e-scrap bills accounting for 22 percent of all recycling and waste management legislation introduced in 2012.

In Maryland, Governor Martin O'Malley signed two e-scrap bills into law — House Bill 448 and House Bill 879. HB 448 directs state procurement offices to purchase IT assets listed on the EPEAT registry, or alternatively, meet specified standards when purchasing new electronic products. HB 879, meanwhile, alters registration requirements for manufacturers under Maryland's e-scrap recycling program. Specifically, the bill adjusts the fees to be paid to the state Department of the Environment and requires new data security and data destruction reporting requirements for any manufacturer that has a take-back program.

By Editorial Staff, Resource Recycling

GreenChip has Been Chosen!

April 18, 2012

We're proud to announce that we've been chosen to responsible handle all the electronic waste for all BOCES locations in Nassau County. This distinct honor is a testament to all our hard work and ability comply with the strictest guidelines for E-waste recycling.

Dear Mr. Monteleone:

I am pleased to inform you that your company has been selected by the Nassau BOCES Evaluation Committee for RFP #2301 - Recycling of Electronic Equipment and Obsolete or Excess Metal, Plastic or Paper Products for Nassau BOCES, Participating School Districts and Municipalities, to represent our agency, participating school districts and municipalities in matters outlined within the above mentioned Request for Proposal.

We look forward to working with you and your firm.

Sincerely,

Michael R. Perina
Purchasing Agent