Rapid Repair: A Better Way to Recycle E-Waste

Television and Electronic Recycling Photo

Image via: Planet Connect

We've had several posts recently about recycling, both in terms of materials recycled and shipping materials globally just to be recycled. Rapid Repair attempts to find a happy medium on both fronts and still be green. Could this be another green business that gets new life as we become more concerned about our carbon footprints and purchasing habits?Based in Kalamazoo, MI, Rapid Repair will accept electronics that are repairable as well as those that are beyond repair - basically they'll take electronics in just about any stage of life out of the waste stream. Most of what they take are iPhones and iPods - probably because they are small and easier to ship than tvs, for example. Items that can be repaired are then resold, and items that have moved on to the next life are then broken down and all of the parts are scrapped and used for something else.

What's Wrong with E-Waste?

Electronics today are filled with lots of tiny parts and metals. Dumping these in a landfill means that the toxic materials in the broken electronics can make their way into area waterways and soil. Recycling facilities in developing countries that pay workers to break down electronics can expose workers to toxic materials, often without any safety procedures in place. Shipping electronics around the world to developing countries to be recycled means creating a huge carbon footprint for a product that may or may not have a future life.

In addition, many electronics have a very short lifespan (cell phones for example last an average of two years or less) - either because they are not built to last and because of the need to constantly upgrade to keep up with technology and your neighbor. This will quickly become a runaway problem if we don't make better use of the materials we have, as well as, develop better recycling procedures.

How Does Rapid Repair Work?

If you have items that are functional, but that you are getting rid of, Rapid Repair will buy them off of you - including paying you up to $200 for a fully functional 1st generation iPhone. Anyone interested in getting involved, in need of a place to recycle electronics, or interested in purchasing used electronics can send their worn out items to Rapid Repair or bring them into the shop in Kalamazoo. Rapid Repair does have several recycling plants that they work with to recycle items (batteries, circuit boards, etc) that they can't take care of. Each of these facilities certifies that they safely and sustainably recycle all materials. Items that can't be reused or recycled are given to local artisans for use in their work.

Rapid Repair takes items from the US and internationally. This brings an interesting point up - is it better to ship an item around the world to be repaired, or just trash it and purchase new? Is either sustainable, or is it just a temporary fix? Local repair shops used to be common but have since all but died out with the constant need to just upgrade electronics rather than repair them. Will this new interest in carbon footprints and reflection on personal responsibility in environmental stewardship bring a rebirth in repair shops - another green business along with all of the renewable energy jobs?

Don't feel comfortable shipping your broken electronic around the US? Many communities have e-Waste collection days. Encourage yours to partner with electronics recyclers that use responsible recycling practices.:Rapid Repair
More on E-Waste Recycling
Encourage E-Waste Recycling In Your Workplace
7 Ways to Get Rid of Unwanted CDs
SaaSy Software Leads to Better e-Waste Recycling
EPA Provides New E-Waste Guidelines, But Zero New Regulations

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