John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the nation’s leading recycler of electronic waste, joined Kevin Kramer, President of Growth Initiatives for Alcoa, the world’s leading aluminum producer, last night for a guest lecture on the benefits of sustainable business and innovative collaboration at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University.

In the lecture, Shegerian and Kramer explained to the packed room of enthusiastic business students their shared story of how their companies have been able to focus on the power of collaboration to achieve sustainability goals – and to create a mutually beneficial relationship that serves as a new and growing model of sustainability. Consumer electronics has become a fast-growing market for aluminum – used in everything from tablets to smart phones – and Alcoa had decided to take a holistic look at its operations and realized there might be a more sustainable and cost-effective way to meet demand – which led to partnering with ERI.

The two speakers explained how by working with ERI, Alcoa is able to improve aluminum’s role on both ends of the sustainability spectrum – starting with smelting and ending with the recycling, reuse and remanufacture of the aluminum used in electronic goods. Alcoa now sources its infinitely recyclable aluminum from the waste stream and saves the energy and resources – financial and environmental – required to create virgin aluminum.

Shegerian also discussed the promise of what he has coined as “urban mining” – for metals, plastics, glass and “rare earth metals and magnets” in the ever deepening pool of unwanted consumer electronics. Alcoa’s relationship with ERI served as an example of the urban mining growth trend.

“It’s an honor to have been asked to participate in this guest lecture alongside our terrific business partner, Kevin Kramer of Alcoa, on the very relevant and important topics of electronic recycling, aluminum and how our two businesses are so crucially related,” said Shegerian. “It is particularly rewarding to be communicating to the future business leaders studying here at Ohio State, where many of these sharp young business minds are sure to go on to great and innovative – and hopefully sustainable – endeavors and collaborations of their own.”