In a recent article, the New York Times cites a report by Demos, a public policy organization focused on economic fairness and sustainability. According to figures obtained from government data, Americans owned 3 billion electronic products at a turnover rate of 400 million units each year. Unfortunately, less than 14% of these are recycled. Best Buy, the nation’s largest electronics retailer, announced its new Buy Back program in a press release on Monday.
Though the Buy Back program is new, Best Buy has already been recycling electronic products for two years. Outlined by the New York Times, consumers can–free of charge– drop off small items, like CDs/DVDs and cell phones at kiosks located at the entrances of stores. Some slightly used electronics may be eligible to be swapped for a gift card. Stores also accept two large items a day at customer service, including items like televisions and monitors up to 32″ and keyboards. There is a $10 fee for anything with a screen, but customers receive a $10 Best Buy gift card upon drop off. Larger items like televisions and appliances can be hauled for a fee, but it can be waived if the customer buys a newer replacement from the store.
Different from their past recycling endeavor, Best Buy created five recycling categories: laptops, netbooks, tablets, post-paid mobile phones, and televisions. According to Tech News Daily, the company may decide to expand this list of categories in 2012. Patrons will pay an upfront fee for the product and can receive anywhere from 10-50% upon its return, the percentage determined by time. Most products fall into the two year range, with televisions falling into the four year range. Customers will receive compensation in gift cards to the store. Best Buy plans to refurbish, resell, or recycle the returned products.
Noted in their recently released 2010 Sustainability Report, the company recycled 200 million pounds in 2009 and estimates that this value rose to 300 million pounds in 2010. While it isn’t full sustainability, it is certainly a big step in the direction of reducing the amount of electronic waste.