Samsung to launch trial "mail back" mobile phone program

Samsung-Seek2Giant electronics manufacturer Samsung has announced they will launch a trial mail-back program with the introduction of their new Seek® mobile phone.

These fun colored pink or blue mobile phones will come a uniquely designed postage-paid box that customers can use to send back their older mobile devices, data cards, batteries and accessories. The company plans to do a comparison between the rate of return of the new box and that of their traditional mail-back program for their other electronics.

Samsung-Seek1It’s another step forward toward product responsibility, one I hope other manufacturers will get on board with soon.

Goodwill expands their recycling to include Microsoft electronics

GoodwillGoodwill Industries  hasannounced it will now accept Microsoft electronics.

Those 1,900 plus facilities that participate in the Reconnect recycling program  –  a residential computer recycling program managed by Dell Computers and Goodwill that makes it easy, convenient and responsible to recycle your used computer equipment – will now accept Microsoft entertainment products including Xbox, Zune and accompanying accessories for free recycling.

Goodwill employees have collected 96 million pounds of e-waste through the program since 2004, which are then refurbished, repaired and resold or recycled by Dell’s partners. To ensure the collected electronics don’t add to the global problem of e-waste dumping, Dell holds its partners to a strict policy of not exporting non-functioning electronics to developing countries.

To find a participating Goodwill location and list of products it accepts, visit

Target establshes in-store recycling centers in honor of Earth Day

Target logoTarget has been offering quality, discount products and providing customers a positive shopping experience since the early 1960’s, Now it’s expanded their green quotient.

On Tuesday, April 6th,  Target introduced in-store recycling centers in all their 1,740 stores. These recycling stations are located just inside, near the front of each store.

What’s unusual about this is it’s the first time a major retailer has made full-out recycling available to their “guests”.

Target’s been recycling since the early ‘60’s, says spokesperson Amy Reilly, but behind the scenes. They’ve recycled a lot of cardboard, shrink-wrap and construction materials and were one of the first retailers to reuse and recycle garment hangers.

So why include the public in their recycling efforts?

“It’s the right thing to do – and it’s a part of being part of the community,” said Reilly.

And they wanted to offer as many options as possible for their guests, she said.

Target's new recycling station offers customers new and convenient options

Target's new recycling station offers customers new and convenient options

The new recycling bins take more than just paper, plastic and cans. The row of four colored bins accept:

  • cans, glass and plastic bottles
  • plastic bags – including dry cleaning bags
  • small electronics such as MP3 players and cell phones, as well as ink cartridges and batteries
  • the fourth bin is for trash, which keeps it separate from the recycling.

Each of these attractive bins sports a graphic and clear labeling to identify what it accepts.

But Target’s recycling goes beyond customers, with recycling bins in the employee lounges as well, says Larry Karl, Floor Manager of the Redding, California store.

“It’s what the future is,” Karl said.

Target’s Redding store  has been accepting plastics for some time now, says Karl, although this hasn’t been done on a national basis. Until now, that is.

Customers have already begun using them to recycle plastics and soda cans.

The new in-store recycling centers launched as part of Target’s celebration of Earth Month in April. As part of this, Target has launched an online eco-boutique where customers can download coupons and buy any of their eco-friendly products. These include:

  • silky-soft organic cotton sheets
  • all-natural skin care products
  • household cleaners that use non-toxic chemicals (like Dr. Bronners & 7th Generation)
  • home accessories made with recycled and upcycled materials
  • certified USDA organic produce and Fair Trade coffees

Customers can also enter a month-long sweepstakes for a 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid. And, on April 18th, Target will give away 1.5 million reusable shopping bags made from recycled bottles. Also, that day Target will run a unique Earth Day newspaper advertising insert which folds into an envelope. Readers can use this to mail five disposable shopping bags to TerraCycle. In return, they’ll get a $1 coupon to use towards a $1.49 reusable Target tote.

Target will continue its long-held policy of giving a 5-cent discount at checkout for every reusable shopping bag shoppers bring in or use.

As for the new recycling stations, “this is not a test,” says Reilly. “It’s permanent.”

Will Target expand what they’ll accept to recycle?

Reilly says they hope to identify additional recycling opportunities.

“We believe strongly we’re a part of the community,” Reilly said. And that includes recycling.

Washington businesswoman recycles styrofoam

Styrofoam 2Marilyn Lauderdale, owner of V&G Styro Recycle is making a difference. Her Renton , Washington company does what few others do – accepts styrofoam and recycles it.

Joining the ranks of Dart Container Corp., about whom I’ve written several times, this company is filling a growing need, taking leftover styrofoam packing from electronics, appliances and and other #6 or EPS-filled packages companies and individuals regularly go through. Lauderdale utilizes a machine that conveys the used styrofoam packing into a grinder that then twists it into a taffy consistency. This is then dumped into containers where it’s compressed and shaped into 40-pound ingots that can then be used for new packaging for electronics and other items.

Styrofoam 1Lauderdale’s company serves three segments:

  • home owners and small businesses with small amounts of clean styrofoam
  • businesses with larger regular amounts of styrofoam and can sign up for frequent pick-up
  • hospitals that need a daily or weekly scheduled
    fee based pick-up and clean up service in their facility

After only a year in operation, this company has, through its recycling efforts, diverted over 120,000 pounds of styrofoam from the landfill!

Let’s hope that this is the start of more entrepreneurs heading in this direction. Who says things can’t be recycled? It just takes a creative and committed person to change the rules.

Green Trends on the radio!

A moment for shamless self-promotion here.

A new voice for green hits the radio waves

Eco Trends logoEco Trends with Debra Atlas debuted on March 9th. 

This new fun radio segment presents the latest, coolest eco-innovations to hit the marketplace. Airing at 3:20 pm Pacific every Tuesday and Thursday, it covers everything from awesome jewelry made from trash, a product that revives soggy electronics, to a headband that helps block out snoring!

Keep up with what’s cool, green and affordable with Eco Trends. And spread the word!

Zany ways to recycle used electronics

62 Projects Dead Computer_1The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) reports that the tech industry collected and recycled about 200 million pounds of discarded consumer electronics last year, and that this could double in 2010.

E-waste is a significant environmental hazard. Since there are a lot of unused desktops and laptops stashed in homes and offices, it could get worse.

Author Randy Sarafan has written a fun book that could change that.

For more on this story, go to

Penn students become reps for sustainability

sustainabilityA group of students at the University of Pennsylvania are about to become Eco-reps, volunteers from three Penn residence halls and one fraternity that educate their peers about sustainability and of Penn’s  Climate Action Plan commitments.

Twenty seven students in all – ten students in U of P’s Hill College House, ten in Kings Court English College  House, six in Rodin College House and one in Tau Epsilon Phi – are being trained to be sustainability ambassadors to fellow residents.

Dan Garofalo, the University’s sustainability coordinator, said “we  believe motivated students who are interested in environmental issues can help  their peers make better choices and decisions in their behavior as it  relates to the environment.”

sustainability 2This group of committed eco-minded students will focus on the University’s environmental initiatives, including:

  • reduced energy consumption and carbon production
  • improved waste reduction and recycling  habits
  • water conservation practices
  • green transportation alternatives   
  • consumer choices

Their goal is to create a more sustainable campus  environment. They’re gearing up to their first joint event: an energy-conservation challenge where residents of each building pledges to “unplug, turn  down or turn off” their electronics and thermostats while they’re away during  winter break. Energy data will be compared to last year’s to pinpoint the  reductions.

There are Eco-reps programs at a number of universities around the country. Seems like college students around the country are embracing sustainabilityand turning that into positive actions, something our politicians could take lessons from.

First foam recycling facility opens in Illinois

Foam recyclingWanted to mention an update on a remarkable US company. Dart Container Corp,, on whom I did an earlier post has just opened a new foam recycling drop-off site in Aurora, Ill., their 10th such site in the US. These facilities accept foam food service containers, including foam cups, plates, take-out containers, egg cartons, and shaped or molded foam that’s used to package various electronics.

The foam must have the “6” symbol on it to be accepted.

Once more, Dart leads the way. Keep your eye on this progressive, difference-making  Michigan-based company.

Coming soon – connect your gadgets thru home Wi-Fi

Wireless communicationBy mid-2010, consumers will be able to connect their home electronic “gadgets” via Wi-Fi without a wireless network.

An industry group called the Wi-Fi Alliance has just completed a set of technical “rules” called Wi-Fi Direct to guide consumer electronics companies planning to add this new capability. Now cell phones, cameras and computers will be able to “talk” to each other directly.

Only one gadget will need to have the new Wi-Fi technology to make two-way connections. This technology overlaps with that of Bluetooth, whose wireless technology already has gadget-to-gadget connection capability allowing consumers to send videos and other bandwidth-hogging files around the house.

Things could be getting a little simpler. Add this to the news earlier this year that the major electronics firms have agreed to make standardized charger adapters in the near future and it sure seems like we’ll have a few less headaches in this department next year.

HP Close to Reaching Recycling Goals

Hewlett Packard, the behemoth Palo Alto, California based electronics company, is on track to reaching its “3 R” goals: to recover and recycle 2 billion pounds of its products and to reuse 450 million pounds by 2010.

Last year, HP recycled 265 million pounds, collecting around 3.5 million units that weighed 75 million pounds slated for global reuse. So far, they’ve recycled 1.7 billion pounds of electronic components, according to its latest annual Global Citizenship Report.

 The full 2008 Global Citizenship Report is available at