Washing Data Green
Nathan Zach had a very good reason for making green practices a centerpiece of his electronics recycling business: his mother.
“She was a member of Greenpeace,” he says. “She suggested it.”
Zach, 28, started Warren-based Great Lakes Electronics 10 years ago with a pickup truck and a phone book, cold calling area businesses and breaking down electronics in his mother’s garage. These days, Great Lakes Electronics is one of the largest electronics recyclers in the country, with two locations in Florida and another in Chicago.
“With time, it’s just fallen together,” Zach says.
Great Lakes Electronics claims area big boys amongst its clients, including the likes of DTE and Rock Financial. And even though hard economic times have slowed things down a bit, Zach says that Great Lakes is on track to recycle 54 million pounds of computers, servers, and other electronic gadgets this year.
Along with the metal and plastics saved from the landfill, toxic heavy metals found in batteries, circuit boards and cathode ray tubes such as lead, cadmium, and mercury are also properly handled and recycled. Another bonus? Proprietary data is destroyed in the process. All data-containing components meet one of the largest shredders in the Midwest during recycling, he says.
“It’s a double benefit,” Zach says, “the environment and data protection.”
Zach says Great Lakes intends to keep growing, using the creativity and energy of its young management staff as a driver. Every person on his management team is under the age of 32.
For Zach, knowing that his business is helping the earth and other businesses is its own reward. “I love it,” he says. “I know waking up I can look myself in the mirror and I’m doing something good for everybody.”
— Michelle Martinez