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Electronics, Cradle Toward Cradle

September 9, 2008

samsungprotestDaily Green News
Dan Shapley

As the countdown to the switch to digital television continues, Samsung has joined the ranks of companies offering free recycling of their used electronics.

Samsung joined Sony and LG as the only three companies offering free recycling of old televisions, according to the Electronics TakeBack Coalition.

Samsung earned bonus points from the coalition for agreeing to publicly disclose data about its recycling program, which begins Oct. 1. Samsung has also pledged to use only those recycling programs that don’t incinerate, landfill or export toxic waste to developing countries — a step that should cut down on pollution.

Manufacturers still have a long way to go to achieve the cradle-to-cradle ethic whereby all materials that are used to make a piece of electronics (or furniture, or home or whatever) can be reused indefinitely. But at least offering convenient recycling will help keep electronics out of the waste stream, and the stream of televisions has been awe-inspiring as Americans switch to flat-screen HD plasma televisions (which, by the way, are unparalleled energy hogs — something that will be more apparent when the EPA rolls out new EnergyStar standards for televisions this November).

Why are these recycling programs important? Now, less than 13% of electronics is recycled, and the traces of toxic metals found in all electronics ends up in the air (after incineration), in the water (potentially, eventually, after being buried in a landfill) or in the hands of poor trash-pickers (often in third-world nations). All of which is a reminder why it’s so important to keep working toward that cradle-to-cradle goal.


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