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Staples, Best Buy, Office Depot score highest on recycling report card

San Francisco -- Although most of the 16 electronics retailers scored by the Electronics TakeBack Coalition received an “F” grade, three companies – Staples, Best Buy and Office Depot – were deemed to have effective recycling programs.

More than half of the retailers failed the Coalition’s assessment, including Walmart, Amazon, Costco, Sam’s Club and Sears.

Some retailers offer trade-in programs where consumers can get store gift cards equal to the value of their traded in products, which they must ship back to the retailer. But the Electronics TakeBack Coalition, which promotes responsible recycling and green design of electronics, doesn’t view those as a substitute for recycling programs.

“We’d like to see more of these retailers step up and be the front door for recycling programs, in partnership with the manufacturer take back programs,” said Barbara Kyle, national coordinator, Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

The report card evaluated the 16 retailers’ programs against 20 criteria, including convenience, transparency, collection volumes and responsible recycling. Findings included:

  • Only three of the retailers (19%) have effective recycling programs, meaning they take back all or most of the 13 categories studied and offer physical collection sites.
  • Nine of the 16 retailers got F’s (56%), because they either have no recycling program or they take back only one item.
  • While all 16 retailers sell TVs, only two -- Best Buy and Micro Center - take them back for recycling at their stores.
  • Nine retailers offer trade in programs, but only two of them - Best Buy and Radio Shack - let you bring trade in items back to their stores. The others require consumers to ship their old products back to the trade in vendor for credit.
  • Six of the 16 (37%) retailers are using certified e-Stewards for their recycling or trade in recyclers. The e-Steward standard is the highest in the industry, and does not allow vendors to export toxic e-waste to developing countries.
© 2014