CEO donates millions of supplies to frontline workers: "I don't care about money"

Eric Lundgren details his journey to CEO, his passion for e-waste recycling and the need to make a positive impact during the coronavirus pandemic.

Video Transcript

ERIC LUNDGREN: Today's tech-- e-waste that is-- is not built to last. It's built to be used and discarded as quickly as possible. And that's a problem. We don't live in a society that is reciprocal or self-perpetual or sustainable. And that's what I'm fighting against with all of the companies that I build.


I didn't know what a dump in a landfill was growing up until I was about 14 years old. And I happened to go to my first landfill. And I looked around and saw all of these things that were all just like the things I saw in the store. So at the age of 14, I decided I want to start doing something about that.

I was 15 and a 1/2 years old when I started remaking computers in my basement. I became the e-waste recycler from my little town. And I came down to Los Angeles at 17. And by 17 and a 1/2, I was doing all of American Airlines, Coca-Cola, and parts of Cisco nationwide.

E-waste is the largest growing waste stream in the country and the world. Anything that you plug into a wall is electronic waste. And it represents 2% of our waste stream, but 70% of the toxic material in our landfills. BigBattery was started 15 months ago. And in the last 15 months, we've recycle 368 megawatt hours of lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries from electric vehicles. We're trying to make the world more efficient and more sustainable so that we as a species can last.

I believe that the worst type of waste is human waste, a wasted life lived. So we try to help people recycle their lives as well as recycling electronics. So what we're doing today is hiring felons and hiring vets and hiring anybody that needs a job, teaching them this vocational skill that they can use to better the world while employing themselves and taking care of their families. And I believe that we can help the world while helping our employees at the same time.

As a social entrepreneur when businesses were being shut down by the government, I was worried about my employees. There's 64 employees here in my warehouse that would have lost their job going on furlough. And that was just unacceptable to me. So I called up the mayor's office. We figured out how to pivot the business model and make sure that everybody here could stay employed while we supported our first responders.

In the last 45 days, we have donated tens of millions masks, hazmat suits, about 150,000, 40 million nitro gloves. And we're also powering hospitals with our portable power units at no charge. Whatever our country needs, we have really just brought it all in. And when the FedEx and DHL lines got bogged down, we started leasing Boeing 747s direct from Shenzhen to LAX within seven days bringing in 8 million masks at a time.

If I was a good business man, I would be worth $70, $80 million today. My companies make a lot of money. But we always try to put the majority of that money into something good. I don't really care about money. I'm a social entrepreneur. I care about how can we make the greatest positive impact in the world? And if I can do that, then I'm successful.