Everything old is new again at FCM's city operation

By Bob Peters
March 14, 2012

FCMWhen you think about recycling, computer monitors, televisions and printers are probably not among the first things that come to mind, but at FCM Recycling, that’s all they’re about.

Skids of grey, brown and black line the large warehouse filled with boxes of computer monitors, televisions, computer mouses and other electronics waiting to be sorted and disassembled.

With only 150 employees in six factories across Canada — 35 employees at the Cornwall site — FCM takes the unwanted, broken and dated electronics from large corporations — from leading Canadian wireless companies to large print agencies — and private local clients and ensures that their product will not be tracked back to them or end up in a landfill.

“The purpose of FCM is to manage end-of-life electronics for consumers, government(etc.) with the goal of diverting 100% of those products from landfulls and to make sure that the material is not exported to other countries where the material won’t be handled properly,” said George Craine, business development manager.

Company electronics that are handled by FCM are given a tracking number which allows the organizations to see the process online and on video, from shipping to shredding.

“Our primary goal is keeping our employees safe,” said Rubin, explaining the cleaning rituals (such as special vaccuming and regular blood tests) as he walked through the building.

Once FCM receives the shipment of electronics at the Cornwall site, it is brought to a designated area where employees separate the materials into specific labelled boxes such as modems, laptops, speakers etc.

“Our goal here (in Cornwall) is to achieve the highest level of separation of the products post-processing in order to make value and ease of re-entry into the product stream,” said Andrew Rubin, director of FCM.

Items such as laptops, screens and LCD monitors have to be disassembled differently than the regular televisions because the mercury vapour tubes inside can be easily broken.

Once the tubes are taken out and separated, the plastic, wires and other materials of the electronic item are also put into their own boxes where they will be shipped to another FCM Recycling plant that deals with the shredding of the product.

Items such as older televisions are also disassembled by hand to ensure that no mercury will leak from them and to make use of all the wires, metal and plastic inside the units.

Balers are used on everything non-hazardous, such as the plastic casings of computer monitors, televisions and sheet metal to make use of space in the most efficent way possible.

After the products are baled, they’re neatly stacked within the warehouse until about 50,000 pounds of product is available. They are loaded onto a truck where they’re brought to another FCM Recycling plant to be treated, then brought to another company where they will be transformed into a new product.

“We break (the electronics) down into the products it started as and re-introduce them into the product stream to make new products,” Rubin said.

The company tries to use every product to the fulles,t including the glycol chemical which is found in rear projection televisions which is burned and used as a heat source.

To reduce their carbon footprint, FCM tries to use local companies to pick up their own recycling, including their cardboard and plastic.

And to help within the community, FCM has also partnered up with non-profit organizations such as Skate Cornwall and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cornwall and District by being a sponsor of their annual golf tournament and donating money for every pound of electronics brought in by the Big Brothers Big Sisters.

“We do as much as we can (for the community),” Rubin said.

The above article and photograph were created by Erika Glasberg of the Standard-Freeholder. You can read more articles by Erika on the Standard-Freeholder website:


Category: Business