Close the Loop is driven by a philosophy of zero waste. The zero waste objective encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all materials in the product can be recovered and reused. The process adopted is one similar to the way that resources are reused in nature.
This was exemplified by those who first used publicly in the name of a company, Zero Waste Systems Inc (ZWS), which was founded by PhD chemist Paul Palmer in the mid 1970s in Oakland, California. The mission of ZWS was to find new homes for most of the chemicals being disposed of by the nascent electronics industry. They soon expanded their services in many other directions. For example, they accepted free of charge, large quantities of new and usable laboratory chemicals which they resold to experimenters, scientists, companies and tinkerers of every description during the 1970s. ZWS arguably had the largest inventory of laboratory chemicals in all of California, which were sold for half price. They also collected all of the solvent produced by the electronics industry called developer/rinse (a mixture of xylene and butyl acetate). This was put into small cans and sold as a lacquer thinner. ZWS collected all the "reflow oil" created by the printed circuit industry, which was filtered and resold into the "downhole" (oil well) industry. ZWS subsequently pioneered many other projects.
In 2005, Paul Palmer published a book which summarized and drew from his experiences with ZWS called Getting To Zero Waste. This is not primarily a study of chemical reuse but applies the lessons learned there to the theory of universal reuse of all goods. See www.gettingtozerowaste.com
It is the growing rate of recycling that is driving the implementation zero waste practices in industry. As the market continues to grow companies and individuals are able to purchase products from this recycling stream, completing the input-output life cycle necessary to create a zero waste system. One example of this is the computer and printing industry where worldwide millions of PC's and peripherals (including printer cartridges) are disposed of each year. As those computers and peripherals enter the recycling stream they are broken down into raw materials (commodities) and / or reused for new parts. Companies are then able to purchase those commodities and parts, greatly reducing the materials wasted in the process.
Zero waste is supported by the enactment of government laws to enforce the waste hierarchy of reduce, reuse, and recycle. As these laws take effect more and more companies and consumers are introduced to the zero waste concept and the rate of recycling will increase.
Zero waste requires that we maximize our existing recycling and reuse efforts, while ensuring that products are designed for the environment and having the potential to be repaired, reused, or recycled.
Close the Loop has pursued the 'Zero Waste' philosophy for 10 years, and continues to lead the electronics recycling industry away from the waste industry mentality of single use, collect, shred, bury, mine more resources. Rather, Close the Loop focuses its energy to identifying and then commercially proving potential applications for even the most difficult materials.