E-Cycling Gets Even Greener

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Target Green LogoLooking to buy some greener gifts this holiday season without shelling out the green? As Black Friday gets under way, Target is testing sales of pre-owned electronics on its web site. Everything from $3,000 HDTVs to $65 Nintendo GameCubes and various versions of iPods are available and come with Target’s standard 90-day return policy.

Target’s (TGT) move comes as the dirty and duplicitous global business of e-cycling continues to get attention. CNN earlier this week reported on the hundreds of thousands of tons of e-waste that gets shipped from the U.S. to the developing world for “reuse” and “recycling” which usually means messy demolition. American consumers and companies are starting to work against this inefficient, and often illegal, offshoring of e-waste. And the EPA is trying to standardize e-cycling procedures and put restrictions on offshoring, which together could create a large domestic business for recycling the gizmos of yesteryear.

The post-consumer life of electronics is something manufacturers can no longer ignore. Using Dell’s (DELL) model of comparing tonnage recycled annually to the mass sold seven years prior, Apple (AAPL), H-P (HPQ), and Dell all recycle about 10 percent of their products. Dell, in the meantime, has upped the ante: In addition to recycling any of their own products for free, they will recycle any PC or monitor when you buy a new Dell.

Companies like BuyMyTronics.com (formerly BuyMyBrokeniPod.com), Recellular.com and SecondRotation.com are expanding the gadgetry they collect, resell and recycle. SecondRotation now accepts electronics with no market value and recycles them safely for their customers; it also periodically checks to make sure their partners are properly recycling the devices and aren’t offshoring the e-waste. CEO Rousseau Aurelien told Earth2Tech that the recycling is being done as a service, they’ve yet to monetize it.

Monetizing recycling programs has always been the bane of the business. However, as the EPA works to standardize e-cycling practices, putting the cost of recycling into production of the products themselves will force manufacturers to design better products that last longer and are easy to recycle. In the meantime, check out Target’s vintage iPod offerings.

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