Apr 15, 2010

Thinking about eWaste at the Point of Sale

-shared by Brent Hirata

I planned 5 weeks ago to participate in the LCC E-Waste event this past weekend coordinated by the hard working Dottie Sunio. I had two, seven year old desktop towers to drop off. Everything was going according to plan until I had such an busy Saturday morning that I forgot to drive to campus for the eWaste event. Has that every happened to you? You keep your eWaste around waiting for an event and despite all the reminders you miss it, argh!

That got me thinking, consumers are getting stuck with a big responsibility at the end of a products life (eWaste). Can we do a better job up front at the point of purchase to guarantee an easy end of life process? Similar to buying an Energy Star appliance, I may actually make a buying decision based on a brand or retail store’s take back policy.

With the growing amount of eWaste and the planning involved in figuring out how to dispose of eWaste it made me stop and think. What about “green gadgets” wouldn’t it be great to know before buying a new cellphone, television, digital camera, laptop and printer whether it was made of sustainable plastic or a part of a responsible manufacturers’ or a retail stores end of life program to be recycled.

Sir, would you be interested in getting our End of Life disposal voucher with this new TV purchase?

Also rather than being asked to buy an extended warranty/service contract at the cash register I may be willing to spend $10 for a large $1000 TV to be able to bring it back to the store in 10 years and have it properly disposed of.

Programs like these are in their infancy in my opinion. Currently computer manufacturers like Apple and Dell have some programs in place. Other programs are targeted more toward the continental United States. I think consumers appreciate knowing the upfront process and it will help consumers do the right thing when it comes to properly disposing of eWaste.

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