[MOVED UP in Case You Missed It:] Arman Sadeghi Spreads Earth Day All Green Message: Recycle Electronics the Right Way
He founded and runs Tustin's All Green Electronic Recycling, which is one of only two Orange County operators who recycle all parts from discarded computers, cell phones and other electronic devices to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that prevent them from winding up in landfills and spoiling the earth.
TED Talk fans caught Saeghi's address at the TEDxChange2012 in Newport Coast:
The 35-year-old's path to being the employer of 100 green job holders in Orange County is remarkable when you consider he founded his company after the 2008 market crash, leaving Harvard medical school to help solve a problem he discovered in a 60 Minutes broadcast.
Actually, the path to Harvard is interesting, too: Sadeghi dropped out of Capistrano Valley High School at 15 because he needed to devote more time to a computer company he started in the late 1990s. He later moved on to owning restaurants and bars, including the Laguna Beach Brewing Co. for a couple years, as well as running a management training business.
Sadeghi had a hard time maintaining passion for those pursuits, so he enrolled at UC Berkeley, which he credits with turning him into a "tree-hugger." He would be drawn academically to neuroscience and later Harvard, but he found himself wanting to return to the business world somehow.
Then he caught CBS correspondent (and future nightly news anchor) Scott Pelley's November 2008 60 Minutes report "The Electronic Wasteland," which showed how pieces of Americans' old computer monitors and gadgets now compose city-sized landfills in China, where they foul the air, ground and water.
"It changed my life forever," Sadeghi says of the report. "It was all about the wrong way e-waste is handled. I thought I could start a business right away."
What he discovered is there are many businesses, from legitimate recyclers to charity thirft stores, that will gladly take your old electronics. The problem, he said, is 98 percent of these in Orange County remove copper, aluminum and other materials they can sell from the electronics and then essentially junk the rest--the "digital dump" is what Sadeghi calls it.
The problem is, he notes, "the rest" contains lead, leaded glass and mercury, harmful substances that end up creating the polluted cities in the Far East Pelley was talking about.
Four-year-old All Green is R2 and e-Stewards certified to completely recycle the electronics it receives, ensuring all materials are reused or properly disposed of. It's a simple but expensive process, so All Green subsidizes the operation through contracts with businesses and sensitive government agencies to collect old computers and destroy data files and drives. The company, a certified Microsoft refurbisher, also works with customers who want to prepare electronics for resale.
Meanwhile, Sadeghi is proud of All Green's efforts to work with schools and nonprofits that want to hold e-waste recycling events, and the company also positions electronics recycling bins around the county, or it will even go and pick the stuff up.
Educating the public about the benefits of recycling at every opportunity is Sadeghi's passion now. All Green currently has business customers all over the country but only serves consumers in California and Nevada. He says he won't be satisfied until All Green is serving average folk in all 50 states. People seem to be coming around, as Sadeghi says more are drawn to All Green's certified e-waste logos.
And yes, as Earth Day approached, he confessed, "Our phones are ringing more."
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