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Thoughts on Making the Proper Disposal of Electronics Simpler for Consumers

One of the terrible things I see people doing these days is treating their electronics as disposable. They buy new computers often, just throwing the old in the trash. Same for televisions, cell phones and so forth. Recycling often isn’t on their minds and certainly isn’t all that convenient.

My mother and I had a discussion about this recently. We are much of the same mind on many environmental issues. On this topic, we agreed that the consumer level source of the problem could be a part of the solution.

Just imagine if there were a recycling surcharge on new electronics. Yes, it would raise the price, so maybe people will stop treating them as so disposable. That might just be a good thing.

If the customer brings in their old equipment for recycling, however, they could get a partial rebate. It then becomes the store’s problem to transport the old electronics for repair or recycling. Considering how empty the trucks leaving the stores after deliveries must be, it shouldn’t be all that impossible.

Yes, it is an expense to the store, which would be a part of the reason for the surcharge. Use that money to cover the costs of retrieving the reusable parts from the electronics, so that they are not left to poison the grounds of the dumps.

Could so simple a plan work? I have no idea. But I do think something needs to be done. Just look at the new law here in California about not throwing out batteries. No one quite seems to know how to recycle them (check http://www.rbrc.org/call2recycle/dropoff/index.php if you’re wondering). I’d like to see a similar way for people to get rid of their electronics more easily.

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