A unique recycling business has found a home in Hillsboro.

EG Metals, a metal and electronics recycler — which started out in 2002 literally in the garage of the company’s founder — has grown to become an innovator in the industry.

EG Metals built its Hillsboro plant at 620 S.W. Wood Street in 2011, and has continued to expand, bringing a fistful of jobs that might otherwise have gone to workers HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Peter VanHouten, EG Metals general manager and vice president of operations, explains how the companys new and highly-innovative end-of-life processing equipment works during an Oct. 17 celebration at the Hillsboro plant.

Last week, EG Metals held a dedication ceremony to showcase its specialized processing equipment, which company officials believe will take its operations to a new level.

“We migrated to this great country from India in 2002,” said owner and founder Ed Verghese in opening remarks to about 50 guests at an Oct. 17 event celebrating what he believes will be a new phase of the company’s capabilities. “Now our business has grown to 27 employees, and we will be able to provide even more services to our customers.”

Peter VanHouten, EG Metals’ general manager, pointed out that there is a big distinction between traditional recycling and what EG Metals does — which he called “end-of-life processing.”

“The EPA defines ‘end-of-life’ in our industry as that the final product is at a stage in which it could not ever be used or recognized in its original manufactured state, and becomes a ‘commodity’ rather than a ‘product,’” explained Van Houten. “For example, computers become tin, copper, aluminum, mixed precious metals and plastic. We are the only company in the Northwest that processes to end-of-life. There are many electronics recyclers in the area; most are collectors or aggregators who sell directly to us for processing.”

EG Metals employs a combination of machinery to shred computers, monitors, cell phones and other electronic goods into small pieces that go through multiple separation processes, transforming them into their original core commodity.

“This process normally occurs overseas, and we’ve brought it domestically,” VanHouten said.

Nationwide, only an estimated 12.5 percent of electronic devices are currently getting recycled — a number EG Metals hopes to see vastly increase.

“Being able to recycle electronics responsibly has a major impact on our company and our nation,” said Danny Jones, president of EG Metals. “We divert tons of material from landfills. Businesses coming to EG Metals don’t have to worry about materials ending up in landfills. We are also a certified data destruction facility.”

During last week’s dedication ceremony, EG Metals’ officials demonstrated the process by running some of the first products through their futuristic system.

Dignitaries from the state and local level, including state Sen. Bruce Starr, state Rep. Ben Unger and Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey, were on hand for the Thursday morning demonstration, and they came away impressed.

“What you’re seeing here is electronic reincarnation,” said Willey. “Electronics include mercury and plastics and other materials that are bad for the environment and we don’t want them in our landfills.”

Willey added that he is delighted the business chose to locate in Hillsboro.

“We take pride in Hillsboro being a business-friendly city, and we’re especially glad to see business activity in the southwest industrial area,” Willey said.

“The owners of EG Metals and their partners are investing millions of dollars to solve a very real need in our state — the recycling of electronic waste,” added Starr. “They are putting some of our fellow citizens to work and keeping tons of debris out of our landfills. Oregon, Washington County and Hillsboro should be proud we have citizen business owners who are willing to risk their own capital to make our state and community a better place to live.”

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici had also been scheduled to be at EG Metals for the demonstration, but she had to be in Washington, D.C., for the Oct. 16 vote to end the government shutdown. However, she sent a letter, which VanHouten read during the event.

“I want to offer my congratulations on the opening of EG Metals’ new full-service end-of-life electronics and computer recycling facility,” Bonamici wrote. “As a member of the ‘Make it in America’ congressional working group, I recognize that Congress has a responsibility to create the best conditions possible for businesses to create jobs in the U.S. I am encouraged when small businesses take steps to foster innovation, create jobs, and promote economic development here at home.”