German Post Offices to Cash in on e-Waste

derekGavey-modified by author/CC BY 2.0

Mobile telephones and personal computing devices have taken a lot of business out of the post office. Personal letters and corporate mailings now largely have been replaced by digital-age communications.

But the post office may get the last laugh. In Germany, the post office plans to make a good business by collecting old mobile phones, household electronic devices, used printer cartridges, and any other e-waste that is small enough to fit in an A4-size envelop (the size of a flat sheet of standard paper).

Raw Material Treasure Chests

Gold, silver, copper and dozens of other valuable raw materials hidden in every electronic device are treasures waiting to be plundered. ALBA, the company that will recycle the electro-waste projects that up to 80% of the materials in old electronics can be recycled. They are hoping to see 10,000 "letters" per month, filled with consumer products that otherwise were destined to landfill, burning, or lying neglected at the back of a drawer.

Germans can download a postage-paid postal label from the Internet site of the German Post, free of cost. Once labelled, the little treasure chests can be dropped into any post box, and will be sent to the ALBA recycling facilities.

83 Million Phones

The project, called "Electroreturn," will be supported for one year, after which the Post will examine whether the effort is worth continuing. If the estimated 83 million old mobile phones that are out of use but not yet disposed return to the material supply chain, the project may prove itself worthwhile.

Tags: Electronics | E-Waste | Germany | Recycling