Wired & YouRenew Kick Off Gadget Take-Back Program With High Goals - But Is That The Point?


Image via YouRenew

Wired.com and YouRenew are partnering up with a gadget take-back program. YouRenew is similar to other start-ups wanting to profit off of old gadgets - we've seen a few start up and it is an attractive new area for entrepreneurs. Wired and YouRenew are kicking off the program with a challenge of recycling 40,000 consumer electronics devices in just one month. But is setting high numbers for collection really a good thing?Wired writes that the partnership's goal is to collect 40,000 gadgets between April 22 and May 21.

Participating is easy. Look for the Wired YouRenew widget on Wired.com. Find some old gear you no longer want, and enter the device into the widget. Answer some questions about the condition of your gear, and you'll get an offer.

When companies have goals with high numbers like this, it's exciting because we immediately think that high numbers collected mean high numbers diverted from landfills. Right now recycling rates are still relatively low, (for example, only 18% of computers and televisions were recycled in 2007), so diverting any amount from landfill is incredibly important. But on the flip side, high numbers like this are also intensely disappointing because it means that many gadgets are being turned over and replaced with new devices.

Instead of really high total collection goals, we'd love to see companies setting super low recycling goals, and super high resell goals, so that we can see not just how much is collected, but how much is kept in the consumer stream - something far more green than recycling.

Buy-back companies of course want high collection numbers because that's how they make their money. But their profitability is dependent on people upgrading their phones and devices fairly often, which is the root of the e-waste problem. The greener thing isn't more buy-back companies - it's keeping what we own for as long as possible.

Electronics are high in embodied energy, and the numbers heading to e-waste dumps are skyrocketing. That means the fewer gadgets we consume during our lifetime, the better - we'll get the most out of the energy put into creating them, and put the least pollution back into the environment.

That said, everything kicks the bucket at some point, so the more takeback programs like YouRenew, the better. We're jazzed to see another one come on board to give consumers a responsible outlet for their old devices.

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Tags: Electronics | E-Waste | Gadgets | Recycling