Electronics Recycling Report Card Flunks Nearly All Printer Companies

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition has released a new report card grading electronics manufacturers that produce TVs, computers, gaming consoles and printers on their sustainability efforts around recycling. Somewhat similar to Greenpeace's rankings, the report card shows where manufacturers are succeeding at walking the talk about minimizing the environmental impact of their products -- but more often it shows where they're failing miserably. The companies on Electronic TakeBack Coalition's list were even graded on a curve, but unfortunately, all the printer companies (save HP) received giant F's. Why did so few make the grade?According to ETBC, Dell, Samsung and Asus received the best marks, though Samsung got a scolding for a bad occupational health record at its Korean manufacturing plants where many of the young workers are diagnosed with blood cancers. Whether that's a direct result of working at Samsung or from something else in the local environment, we aren't sure.

Mainly, the ETBC focused on the electronics take-back programs run by the manufacturers -- a lack of a solid program was a sure-fire way to flunk. ETBC looked at issues such as how many collection sites companies have in each state and how much of the total volume of what they produce is coming back for recycling. Of course, responsible recycling methods like a no-export policy and closed-loop recycling as well as transparency in reporting were big factors in grading.

The printer industry was worst, with all companies except HP failing, and it's mainly because of a lack of performance in the "responsible recycling" category.

"If you don't offer physical collection sites or events, you are not serious about your takeback program. With so many cheap consumer printers being practically disposable these days, the printer companies should be doing a lot more to make sure they get their old equipment back," said Barbara Kyle, National Coordinator of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. "Most of the printer companies simply offer mailback recycling programs, but statistics show that people won't mail back larger products like printers,"

It's important to buy only from companies who take the full lifecycle of their products into account, and to be an active part of the responsible recycling of products by making sure they're dropped off at an eStewards certified recycler.

Check out how each major company scored.
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Tags: Corporate Responsibility | Electronics | Environmental Footprint

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