Green PC Responsibility: Electronic Takeback Coalition

By Doug Bartholomew  |  Posted 2008-09-24 Print this article Print


The Electronic Takeback Coalition maintains a list of recyclers that have pledged to adhere to certain corporate responsibility standards, including not incinerating e-waste or shipping it to China. "We review these recyclers, so companies should be able to find a responsible recycler on the web site," says Barbara Kyle, national coordinator of ETC, a consortium of environmental and consumer groups based in San Francisco. "Companies are waking up to the need for some due diligence here."

In fact, PC purchasing decisions, which today are made largely on power and efficiency,  will soon take the end-of-lifecycle issue into account, Daoud believes. One reason for the change, he says, is the regulatory pressure that's already being brought to bear, not only in the European Union, but in the U.S. as well. "The EU has been the most proactive legislator in this area," he says. "In the U.S., there has been a legislation on a state by state basis, with 25 states enacting e-waste disposal laws."

Of course, this situation isn't making PC manufacturers happy. "Most IT vendors don't like this patchwork legislation, and most are looking forward to some sort of federal mandate," Daoud adds. The ultimate impact will be a higher cost for business, he says.

None of this is new to PC manufacturers, who in recent years, after been prodded by environmental and consumer groups, have launched their own PC takeback programs. "Most PC manufacturers have some kind of takeback program," the ETC's Kyle says.

For instance, Dell promises to take back any old PC that has the Dell name on it. Consumers buying a new Dell can select a free recycling option when they buy a new Dell. Hewlett Packard will take machines back for a fee that includes shipping. Lenovo also charges consumers a fee to take back a PC.

Apple will take back any brand of Mac or PC so long as you buy a new machine directly from Apple, not through a reseller. Within 30 days after purchasing a new machine, consumers can ship their old ones to Apple's recycler using a free shipping coupon mailed to them after purchase.  Sony will take aback any machine with the Sony name on it. Toshiba takes back any of their notebooks for the cost of shipping.

IBM offers a buyback program for computers that still have value. Sellers of one to 250 items can get a quote online. For larger quantities, IBM offers other asset recovery options.


Doug Bartholomew is a career journalist who has covered information technology for more than 15 years. A former senior editor at IndustryWeek and InformationWeek, his freelance features have appeared in New York magazine and the Los Angeles Times Magazine. He has a B.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.

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