Recycle Gadgets for Free through the Mail

by Rob on March 18, 2008

“Free and green” is how the United States Postal Service is describing its new initiative to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge. Called the “Mail Back” program, it aims to help consumers “make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier for customers to discard used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way.” So how does the program work?

Customers use free envelopes found in 1,500 Post Offices to mail back inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods and MP3 players – without having to pay for postage. So who pays the postage, you ask. Good question. According to the USPS press release, postage “is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a nationally recognized company that recycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics.” Clover will recover its costs (and then some), by refurbishing and reselling the product if possible. If the product can’t be refurbished, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. According to the press release, Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: “it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.”

The program is in a pilot in 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego, but could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful. And if you’re looking to recycle your iPhone, send it to me (I’ll pay the postage).

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