Retro is the New Recyclable

Send us your old electronics
Jul 18, 2014 1:30 PM ET

Thinking Green

Send us your unwanted electronics

It’s amazing how electronics have changed over the years, from 8-track players to iPads and rotary dials to cell phones (don’t fret younger readers - we’ve provided some Wikipedia links so you can learn what those devices are).

In fact, it seems as soon as you buy any form of electronic, it becomes obsolete by the time you break the seal on the package. However, while there may be little to compare between generations of consumer electronics, most of them have at least one thing in common – they can be recycled.

At Waste Management, we’ve been focused on recycling electronic waste (known in the business as e-waste) for some time. One of our branches, the WM Product Recovery Group, is dedicated to keeping electronics out of landfills and putting them back into an environment where they can be reused or recycled. This group specializes in paying you – the recycler – for your unwanted cell phones, laser and ink jet cartridges, tablets, laptops, eReaders and so on.

Certified by various organizations overseeing environmental stewardship – eStewards, R2, RIOS, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 – the Product Recovery Group has developed its business to preserve data integrity, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the need within manufacturing to excavate raw materials for the development of electronics. Everybody wins.

When it comes to bigger organizations, Waste Management also manages end-of-life electronics through a national network of state-of-the-art processing facilities, which are certified to e-Stewards’ standards with complete transparency over the recycling process. To collect those items, our teams help organize e-waste collection events, where anyone in the vicinity can drop their old electronics off for safe recycling.

This tactic has proven to be so successful that colleges and universities – many of which have developed climate action plans and zero-waste goals – are developing their own programs for students.

An example of that is the University of San Diego, which has been doing good for the environment through an e-waste collection program, and turning a profit doing so. Three years ago, the University opened its Electronics Recycling Center (ERC), an e-waste collection facility that’s open to the public. Since then, it’s collected over 900,000 pounds of electronics, generating more than $200,000 in gross revenue.

Just this week, Waste Management participated in a webinar with the University of San Diego to talk about the things campuses can do to reach their sustainability goals. Check it out here.

So, if you’re into giving your e-waste a second life, let us know what you’re recycling. Post photos on our Facebook page (there’s a link to it on our blog here). Help us to make retro the new recyclable.