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Shreveport-based Pandabit collects e-waste for fundraising

Pandabit - Facebook

A Shreveport-based electronics recycling business has created a fundraising model for organizations to make money from e-waste deposited in recycling receptacles.

Pandabit CEO John-Scott Thompson says his “feed the panda” campaigns are catching on. He has five employees who are running two campaigns a week. Thompson splits proceeds with an organization 50-50.

“We’ve been putting these boxes in schools, nonprofits and churches, and an average campaign is two to four weeks. They send us cell phones, computers, monitors, tablets and various electronic devices,” Thompson said, who started buying and selling cell phones in college to make some extra money.

According to a recent report, market research firm IBISWorld estimates electronics recycling is currently an $8.4 billion industry that is expected to continue growing. Thompson, who holds a degree in disaster science from LSU, says e-waste is a manmade disaster. He says people have about 24 electronics in their home. Many are not in use.

“People have them sitting in drawers somewhere. They either get thrown in the landfill -- which is illegal, and very harmful to the environment -- or sit somewhere for years. They don’t realize there’s a lot of money in those,” Thompson said. “If you’re really passionate about a cause or your kid’s school, if you give it to them they’re going to make more money than you probably would have by writing a check.”

Thompson says in the next month he plans to expand his business to Baton Rouge and add two more employees. He says the average campaign makes between several hundred dollars to several thousand depending on how well it’s promoted. He says he plans to scale up Pandabit and outgrow Cohab, the co-sharing workspace, next year.