The Leaders in American e-Waste Management

4THBIN
Written by William Young

4THBIN may seem an unusual name for a business at first glance but, in proper context, the moniker is all too fitting. The name refers to the fourth bin of waste collection that is missing from the typical trio of garbage, paper, and metal waste bins that consumers are used to having in their homes. Electronics recycling—or e-recycling—represents that additional, fourth bin. The company itself was founded in 2009 by a technology consulting firm operating out of New York City.

While the company supported many small businesses and some bigger customers at that time, it had issues filling the gap for customers who needed data destruction services. Company founder and Director of Business Development, John Kirsch, explains that there were not many ethical options for that specific service in the area at the time. With that need in mind, the business spun off its own company to provide this and other e-recycling services into a company that became 4THBIN.

The genesis of 4THBIN turned out to be very well-timed. After strict laws around the disposal of electronics were embraced across European countries, similar regulations made their way over to America around the beginning of the 2010s. California was the first state to adopt the laws, but around 30 states have now implemented them, including New York.

New York’s electronic recycling and take-back laws place the burden of e-waste disposal directly on electronics manufacturers, meaning that companies like computer manufacturers must responsibly dispose of a certain weight of electronics within the state annually or be subject to penalties and fines.

For its part in the process, 4THBIN provides general electronics recycling as well as IT asset disposition, data disruption, shredding, and brand protection services. These are made available to every type of organization, from government departments to start-ups. To date, the company has recycled over ten million pounds of e-waste, with even more expected year over year. “Every single home, company, and business has electronic equipment, and it needs a home,” Kirsch says.

4THBIN aims to be the brand that people think of when it comes to e-recycling and has the highest level of certification in the industry for its services. There is also a guarantee that comes with using the company as it abides by the strictest standards without compromising data. This is the first company in New York to be certified by the e-Stewards Initiative—a globally recognized recycling standard for electronics—and has been granted a platinum grade (the highest possible) by sustainability assessment platform EcoVadis. Chief Financial Officer Sebastian Passarello explains that a company needs to adhere to stringent regulations to be considered for the initiative and must undergo a continuous auditing process to keep the certification.

Kirsch notes that 4THBIN is based on the principles of legality and sustainability. When it comes to the former, data breaches or electronic equipment ending up in a landfill can spell big trouble for companies and may even lead to lawsuits or public relations embarrassment. Clients are subject to electronics recycling laws and are at huge legal risk when using uncertified vendors, so the company wants to help them maintain compliance.

When it comes to sustainability, which is fast becoming a major topic in the United States and worldwide, 4THBIN recognizes that, like the lead in CRT televisions, a lot of older electronic equipment can contain hazardous chemicals which can spread into the environment and contaminate it when improperly handled. The company wants to do its part to prevent that.

Generally, the strong reputation that 4THBIN has built with regard to data destruction and e-recycling across the country is its own reward, according to Passarello. “The ability to be a relatively small company but to also be sought after is a tremendous accomplishment,” he says.

By further cutting out third-party contractors and taking on de-manufacturing capabilities itself, 4THBIN can offer end-to-end service. The company regularly works with some of the most prestigious institutions on the planet, who trust and continue to use it as its services provide the level of security these businesses require.

The company recently completed a merger with a long-time partner, recycling company ecoTech Management Inc. The merger has expanded its footprint to include many more services and will support much larger infrastructure and commodity recycling capabilities. This merger has also allowed both businesses to maintain strong ties to the recycled materials industry.

Passarello says that ecoTech Management has supported the Recycled Materials Association (ReMA) throughout several iterations; in fact, an affiliated scrap metal company within the umbrella has been a supporter of ReMA (formerly known as ISRI) for 30 to 40 years. Passarello was even the Secretary of the New York state chapter of ISRI for many years, so the companies always try to support the efforts of a close ally. He points out that ReMA is the strongest group representing the industry, so 4THBIN and its affiliates always try to attend events and maintain their presence with it.

The company is excited about where the e-recycling industry is going, as well as for the opportunities it presents for the future. Current speculation is that e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream overall, surpassing even many traditional leaders in the field. As technology continues to drive the world forward and evolve in size and shape, more e-waste will be made as a result, meaning opportunities will grow with the industry itself, and 4THBIN will continue to be a safe choice for e-waste removal.

Indeed, the sector is experiencing phenomenal economic growth, especially since equipment is cheaper than ever as new devices are developed and marketed. However, with this success comes a low barrier of entry into the space for potential bad actors. Kirsch says that anyone can potentially become a waste company without the proper bona fides, getting their hands on equipment and data with little to no certification, while customers may not do the necessary research to find the best option.

4THBIN, conversely, was founded in response to the lack of trustworthy options in the area for its clients. “Consumers need to know what their best options are so they don’t get taken in by bad actors in the industry,” says Kirsch. Passarello states that people often see opportunity in a fast-growing industry like e-waste, and neglect to follow the same standards as a company like 4THBIN, which makes it challenging for those trying to operate at the highest level.

Moving forward, 4THBIN will be looking into further brand expansion. After the merger with ecoTech in November 2023 made the two companies even stronger, more opportunities for mergers and acquisitions will be explored. The largest states in which the company currently operates are New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts, so it will be looking for work in other states as well as updating its in-house technology to accommodate that growth.

Given the prevalence of both electronic equipment and the resulting e-waste, the company certainly has its work cut out for it as countless workspaces and industries move forward with technology that must be disposed of correctly. In a relatively short time, 4THBIN has demonstrated its commitment to—and passion for—e-recycling and the ongoing sustainability efforts of its clients and the world at large.

Focus quotes:
“4THBIN provides general electronics recycling as well as IT asset disposition, data disruption, shredding, and brand protection services.”

“To date, the company has recycled over ten million pounds of e-waste.”

“This is the first company in New York to be certified by the e-Stewards Initiative, a globally recognized recycling standard for electronics.”

“Current speculation is that e-waste is the fastest-growing waste stream overall.”

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