(San Francisco, CA) The Electronics TakeBack Coalition released a new report card today that grades computer, television, printer, and game console companies on their efforts to take back and recycle their old products. Most of the manufacturers passed muster, but most printer companies and some TV ones flunked.
The highest marks go to Dell, Samsung, and Asus, but there were still some companies with failing grades, including Brother, Kodak, Lexmark, Philips, Funai, Epson, and RCA (now owned by Technicolor). Samsung also got a “dishonorable mention” because of concerns about their occupational health record at manufacturing plants in Korea where many young workers have been diagnosed with blood cancers and several have already died.
“Announcing that you have a takeback program really isn’t enough,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Vice Chair of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. “Most electronics companies have some kind of takeback program – but what we are looking at is whether these programs are actually effective in collecting their old products, and are making sure they are not just being exported to developing nations.”
Key grading criteria:
How extensive are the takeback programs, especially in states that don’t have strong laws requiring them to do so, including:
– How many collection sites are in each state?
– How much volume is coming back?
Are products being recycled responsibly (not exported)
What are the companies doing to promote reuse and closed loop recycling?
Transparency in reporting
Positions on government policies related to recycling
The printer industry generally scored the lowest marks – all failed except for HP – as well as a few TV manufacturers like Funai (5th largest U.S. seller), RCA, and Philips.
“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,”
Companies generally performed poorly in the “responsible recycling” category, which requires transparency in recycling policies, vendor requirements, and vendors used, as well as giving the most credit to companies whose recyclers are qualified under the e-Stewards program. The e-Stewards program evaluates electronics recyclers against the highest standards in the industry, including a ban on exporting toxic e-waste (included untested and non-working products) to developing countries. The program has evolved from a voluntary “Pledge” program into a certification program with a comprehensive standard and accredited third party auditors who certify whether a recycler conforms to the standard.
The report card was released in advance of the holiday buying season, when consumers typically buy a large volume of electronics in the U.S.
“People are increasingly looking for “’green’” electronics, and convenient and responsible recycling programs are a significant part of that picture,” said Robin Schneider. “Consumers should consider a company’s recycling program when they decide what to buy.”
Explanation of grading