For Waterbury-based e-recycler,
new business is Take 2
Sunday, April 28, 2013 11:05 PM EDT
WATERBURY -- It didn't take Gina Chiarella very long to get back into the swing of things.
Chiarella, 41, a Wolcott native who currently lives in Mahopac, N.Y., has started a new business. Take 2 Inc., an electronics recycling and electronic-assets management company, is based in a 26,000-square-foot facility at 567 South Leonard St.
Though she launched the business less than three months ago, in early February, it has already become the official electronics recycling entity for more than a quarter of the state's population.
"The response to our starting this new company has been just fabulous so far," Chiarella said. "It's gone way beyond what we were anticipating."
CHIARELLA AND HER husband, Mick Schum, who also hails from Wolcott, are not exactly strangers to the recycling industry.
Back in 2003, the couple launched their first business venture, a Meriden-based recycling firm called WeRecycle. That company grew so quickly they had to move it to larger quarters in Mount Vernon, N.Y., a few years later.
Finally, in 2008, the couple sold WeRecycle to the Hugo Neu Corp., and accepted positions within the company's new management structure. Gina remained with WeRecycle until the end of 2010, while Mick stayed on an additional two-plus years before handing in his resignation a few weeks ago to join his wife in her new business.
That new venture -- which Chiarella launched in partnership with her sister, Marianne Chiarella -- came about when Gina made a curious discovery while reading a report about Connecticut's new electronics recycling law. The law was passed by state legislators in 2007 and began imposing disposal restrictions on household e-wastes in early 2011.
"What I discovered was that the new program had seven approved recycling companies through which state residents could dispose their electronic wastes, and none of those companies were based in Connecticut," she said.
A Connecticut program should provide employment opportunities for Connecticut residents, she reasoned.
Having identified a business niche she felt she could fill, Chiarella and her sister began piecing together a business plan late last year. Though Mick was still employed by WeRecycle at the time and not directly involved with the formation of Take 2, Chiarella said he fully supported the concept.
EARLY INDICATIONS suggest that Take 2 is growing just as quickly and just as steadily as WeRecycle did 10 years earlier.
The company has 10 employees, including three drivers, two electronic technicians and two materials handlers, and plans to hire another 15 by the end of the year.
As of late April, it had signed contracts to become the formal e-waste recycling agent for 25 municipalities across the state, including the cities of Waterbury, Middletown, New Haven, and Stamford, and towns such as Southington, Cromwell and Milford,
In addition to Waterbury, Take 2 has signed contracts with several other area towns, including Ansonia, Middlebury and Wolcott.
The towns that have signed up with Chiarella's company to date have a combined population of more than 830,000 residents, or more than a quarter of the state's total population.
"I started out in February by calling a lot of my old friends and contacts I had established from my WeRecycle days," she said. "Fortunately, a lot of them told me they were glad to hear I was back in the business and were looking forward to working with me again."
Take 2's primary clients include municipalities, small businesses, health care facilities, school districts and colleges.
The company collects used electronics equipment -- computers, laptops, printers, monitors, TVs, video game consoles, VCR and DVD players, and mobile devices like tablets and cell phones -- and brings them back to its facility on South Leonard Street. There they are inspected, and either repaired and resold or transported to a shredding facility.
For its municipal clients, Take 2 sets up large storage containers within the town's recycling center or transfer station, and then sends a truck to empty the containers as often as three times a week for larger municipalities.
It also conducts municipal recycling events at libraries and schools at which people from throughout the town are invited to bring their unwanted or dysfunctional electronic equipment.
For small businesses and other clients, it can either set up a similar storage container or periodically dispatch a truck to the client's place of business, working closely with the firm's information technology manager or facilities coordinator.
IN THE VAST MAJORITY of cases, one of three things happens once the discarded materials are brought to Take 2's headquarters:
-- Technicians will examine the materials and attempt to repair as many as they can. Computers, laptops, VCRs and other equipment that can be brought back to working order are then resold to the public at the company's retail outlet, which Chiarella hopes to have up and running at the South Leonard Street plant by the end of May. Profits made on the resale of discarded equipment are shared between Take 2 and the equipment's original owner;
-- Items that can't be repaired are "brought downstream," a recycling industry euphemism for taking a product to a sophisticated electronic shredder. Modern shredders have the ability to break down and separate electronic equipment into its original components -- like plastic, steel, aluminum and copper. Once they've been separated, the owner of the shredding facility can resell the components to original equipment manufacturers. As a result, the owner of the shredder pays Take 2 for every load of used electronics equipment the company brings to its shredder.
-- Electronic equipment that contains certain hazardous chemicals -- such as lead, mercury, cadmium and beryllium, which are found in items like CRT (cathode ray tube) glass, mercury light bulbs and batteries -- can't be recycled. Take 2 has to pay a fee to its downstream contractors in order for them to accept and properly dispose of such items.
"We reuse and recycle what we can, and we properly dispose of the hazardous materials that make certain equipment unfit for recycling," Chiarella said. "That's what responsible recycling is all about."