Buzz Raley is the President and CEO of T3 Office Recycling Solutions, based in Rancho Cordova, California. T3 has a focus on collecting and then putting into reuse surplus new and used printer supplies, data storage media and consumable printer parts and other materials. The company provides a new revenue stream for businesses, educational institutions, government agencies and non-profits, helping them liquidate surplus supplies, keeping them out of landfills. T3 has achieved critical certifications under international standards assuring organizations working with the company that their supplies and materials will be handed in an environmentally responsible manner. It is the only certified recycling company on the West coast whose focus is on these supplies and materials.
In this interview with Bill Kopatich, Buzz Raley describes how T3 is not only providing a financial benefit for organizations, but also is keeping unused material out of landfills by redistributing the materials to others that can put the surplus and used supplies and materials to good use.
Bill: Thanks for sharing with our readers how you are helping organizations dispose of surplus materials and at the same time providing financial benefits and keeping material of landfills. How did you get involved in the recycling business?
Buzz: For a number of years I worked in the printer cartridge remanufacturing industry in the Bay Area. The focus was on refurbishing used toner cartridges, starting with a used cartridge and remanufacturing it so that it performs similar to a new OEM cartridge. I worked for a few companies in this field, and I became the Operations Manager responsible for remanufacturing and distribution at the last company I worked for. That company was eventually sold and I helped close down the operations and then was considering my next career move.
The remanufacturing industry is all about recycling and making good use of materials that would otherwise go into landfills. While I was in the remanufacturing industry, I recognized the value of reuse and recycling every possible part, both for an economic reason as well as to minimize waste going into landfills. I also could see ever-increasing concern about the environment, especially here in California. What I saw missing was the education of business, government and other institutions to know there was a value and a reuse potential for many of the materials they were just disposing and sending to landfills.
I decided to start a business recycling and putting into reuse some materials and products that I was familiar with, especially printer cartridges and T3 Office Recycling Solution was founded. We started in San Jose in 1997, but after a number of years we moved our operation to Rancho Cordova, near Sacramento.
Bill: You’ve been at this for several years. Over time, what range of products have you focused on for recycling and reuse?
Buzz: One of the largest focus areas for us is surplus printer supplies. These include unused OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) toner and ink cartridges, drums and copier supplies. We also are recycling consumable printer parts like fusers, maintenance kits and transfer kits. The unused supplies can be sealed or opened, obsolete, date-expired and from any OEM brand and model. The boxes can be in like-new or damaged condition. We also recycle new sealed or opened, obsolete, overstock and used data storage media, typically used for backup. Additionally, we collect used toner and ink cartridges that can be used in a remanufacturing process.
Bill: How do businesses and other organizations end up with stocks of surplus supplies?
Buzz: Technology changes so quickly these days and supplies are not always efficiently managed, especially when fleets of equipment are being refreshed. Printer fleet refreshes are a good example of a cause of excess materials. Typically what we have seen is, that as printer fleets are updated, the organizations were just sitting on the supplies for the old printers and were doing nothing. They would leave them in their storage closet or on pallets, depending on the size of the organization, when they do these switch-outs. Then eventually they would just purge them and scrap them. Excess stock can also be generated due to liquidations and bankruptcies.
Now when we reach out to government agencies and private sector businesses, we try to educate them on the value of our program, letting them know that this can create a revenue stream that didn’t previously exist in their facilities. With our program, not only are they receiving financial incentives, they are keeping usable materials out of landfills.
Bill: When you work with these organization, whether they be businesses or government or some other institution, is it typically then just a one-time deal or do you have an ongoing program working with them?
Buzz: There are different situations we encounter. Sometimes we help organizations on just a one-time deal. Many times it depends on the size of the organization, as smaller organizations may not have an ongoing need. It also goes back to the previous thing we were talking about – educating them on what to look for and that this process never really has to stop, because there’s always going to be change. With our Full Circle Solution Program, we provide advice on how they can incorporate our program into their day-to-day work cycle, so they stay on top of the supplies as change happens. They don’t have to keep the surplus materials stocked for a long time. Depending on the organization, it can be a weekly, monthly or quarterly review and purging process. As long as they’re educated on what to watch for, and they get everybody on the same page within the organization, then it’s just a nice steady stream that happens for them which can turn a one-time event into an ongoing process once they implement our program.
Bill: What happens with the surplus materials that you collect?
Buzz: Unused supplies are redistributed to our network of dealers and wholesalers and directly to businesses and other organizations in need of the supplies. Used printer cartridges and other consumable printer parts are redistributed to qualified remanufacturers, who use the materials to refurbish the cartridges and printer consumable parts.