Tired of how inconvenient it can be to recycle your cell phone, laptop, MP3 player or PDA? A new ECycling Leadership Initiative will make it easier for you to find more than 5,000 recycling locations around the country so you can keep your e-waste out of the trash.
Consumer electronics industry leaders have launched this first-ever industry-wide electronics recycling initiative with an ambitious goal: To recycle one billion pounds of electronics annually by 2016, which would be a more than threefold increase over 2010. One billion pounds of electronics, if not properly recycled, would completely fill the equivalent of a 71,000-seat NFL stadium. (The picture to the left shows a mountain of electronic keyboards in need of recycling.)
E-waste is the fastest growing element of the waste stream, so recycling it rather than throwing it away must be done. Electronic equipment contains many heavy metals that are better captured than left to get loose in landfills or trash heaps, where they can contaminate groundwater and soil. Plus, given how much energy, water and other resources it takes to make a computer or a phone, it's much more environmentally friendly to recapture and reuse those materials than tp throw them away.
"The billion pound challenge is about both the quality and quantity of electronics recycling,” said Walter Alcorn, CEA’s vice president of environmental affairs and industry sustainability, in a company press release. “But we won’t stop at a billion pounds. The eCycling Leadership initiative is an ongoing, permanent initiative that will ... prohibit the use of recyclers and downstream processors who dump end-of-life electronics in developing nations.”
To that end, CEA supports certifying third-party recyclers to verify that the electronics are, in fact, being recycled rather than trashed when they're out of sight. In the future, look for new mobile apps to help make recycling used electronics as easy as buying new ones. The eCycling Leadership Initiative will also bolster the number of collection sites by working with state and local governments and charities to make more ecycling sites available.
NO NEED TO WAIT! GET STARTED NOW
Best Buy - I regularly recycle my electronics at Best Buy. Here's their policy: "We'll take just about anything electronic, including TVs, DVD players, computer monitors, cell phones and more. You can bring in up to two items a day, per household, and most things are absolutely free. However, there is a $10 charge for TVs 32" and under, CRTs, monitors and laptops — but we'll give you a $10 Best Buy gift card to offset that cost." Along with an in-store drop off program and kiosks, Best Buy also offers a TV haul-away service when a new product is delivered, and a Tech Trade-In program compensating consumers with gift cards for valuable products. In early 2011, Best Buy stores nationwide collected nearly 400 pounds each minute for recycling.
Goodwill - Businesses and consumers can donate computers to Goodwill for recycling. Check with your local Goodwill office before dropping equipment off.
EBay.com, CraigsList.com, and FreeCycle.org - These sites also enable you to sell, trade or donate your computer rather than toss it in the trash.
Earth911.com enables you to find more local computer recycling locations. Just go to their website, plug in your zip code, and you'll find electronics recyclers nearest your home or office.
WHAT ARE COMPANIES ALREADY DOING?
All e-waste collected by Apple programs worldwide is processed in the region where it was collected. The company says nothing is shipped overseas for recycling or disposal. Apple has instituted recycling programs in cities and college campuses in 95 percent of the countries where its products are sold, diverting more than 130.2 million pounds of equipment from landfills since 1994. Apple also takes back Apple computers, iPods, iPads and iPhones at no charge.
A partnership between Dell and Goodwill Industries International lets consumers drop off any used computers for no-cost recycling, whether they're Dell brand or not. Donated equipment meeting Reconnect’s criteria are resold, and devices needing repair are either refurbished or broken down into parts to be recycled by Dell partners. The program supports Goodwill’s job training programs, employment placement services and other community-based programs for people who have disabilities, lack education or job experience, or face other challenges to finding employment.
HP currently operates recycling services in 56 countries or territories worldwide. In the United States they launched a buyback program in January 2009 that includes free recycling if an HP- or Compaq-branded system has no value for consumers. HP recycled more than 200 million pounds of hardware globally in 2009, resulting in an estimated 210,000 tons of avoided carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions. Since 1987, HP has recovered over 2 billion pounds of electronic product (for recovery and recycling) and HP print cartridges (for recycling).
LG’s recycling program lets consumers drop off unwanted electronics at a Waste Management designated eCycling Center, or other alternative methods may be available. LG has recycled more than 7 million pounds since 2009, of which 3.3 million pounds were through LG’s voluntary program.
Nintendo of America
Because video game systems and games retain their value for many years beyond their retail lifecycle, Nintendo of America offers a number of customer support options to maximize their continued use, while also offering a free courtesy Take-Back Program to minimize the waste disposal of its products. The Take-Back Program provides for recycling of Nintendo hardware, software, accessories, and rechargeable batteries.
Panasonic, Sharp and Toshiba (Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC)
Among other things, the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company, LLC (MRM) operates a voluntary nationwide collection and recycling service for brands produced by Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Mitsubishi and Vizio. Since October 2007 MRM has established 840 collection sites across the U.S. and recycled more than 78 million pounds of electronics.
Launched in the fall of 2008, Samsung Recycling Direct[SM] offers drop off locations in all 50 states. Samsung holds its recyclers accountable for environmentally responsible recycling, including no landfill, incineration, or export to developing countries of hazardous electronic wastes as commonly defined. Last year, in 2010, Samsung recycled over 50 million pounds of e-waste across the U.S., most of which was done voluntarily.
The Sony Take Back Recycling Program was the first national recycling initiative to involve both a major electronics manufacturer and a national waste management company. Since its inception in 2007, Sony has established a goal of collecting a pound of electronics for every pound it produces. To date Sony has collected and recycled more than 43 million pounds of electronics.
The eCycling Leadership Initiative is a collaboration among consumer electronics manufacturers, retailers, collectors, recyclers, non-governmental organizations and governments at all levels, and is coordinated by the Consumer Electronics Association.
You can find more information on the eCycling Leadership Initiative here.