ARLINGTON, VA. — Recyclers and manufacturers have weighed-in on the electronics end-of-life equation.
Now they'll have to make way for retailers, too.
Best Buy Co. Inc. recently announced plans to be the nation's first retailer to launch a broad-based electronics recycling drop-off program. The retailer will roll out the first phase this summer at as many as 10 of its 415 stores, with plans to involve local governments, recyclers and electronics manufacturers.
The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based firm will share results with interested parties, including competitors, said Mike Linton, senior vice president of marketing.
"Our goal is to facilitate a national answer," Linton told attendees April 19 at the Electronics Product Recovery and Recycling Conference in Arlington. "We think over time it ought not be our program. We think it ought to just be."
Panasonic already has signed on as the first manufacturing partner.
"No one person is going to solve this problem," said David Thompson, general manager of Panasonic's environmental department. "We're going to need large-scale cooperation."
Participating Best Buy stores will accept any electronic items they sell, including cell phones, and will charge consumers an undetermined drop-off fee for items containing cathode ray tubes such as televisions and computer monitors.
Minneapolis-based environmental consultants e4 Partners will organize Best Buy's recycling events. The first phase will include at least one annual drop-off collection at each site. Although Best Buy informally has talked with recyclers, it has not signed contracts, said e4 Partners' Tom Osdoba.
Total costs for the program are unknown at this time, Linton said, but Panasonic expects to carry a quarter of the costs, Thompson said.
Best Buy's pilot program in a St. Paul, Minn., suburb last fall came with a $5,600 price tag. The bill, paid to Waste Management Asset Recovery Group, covered equipment, logistics and processing for the two-day event, e4 said. Some costs, including planning, were not tracked. Panasonic and Sharp Electronics covered the cost of recycling their products.
Washington County and Minnesota officials helped staff the event, which yielded 22 tons.
In the pilot program, participants paid $15-$25 to drop off televisions, depending on size, and $10 per computer monitor. All other electronics equipment was accepted without charge.