Scientists create biodegradable foam packaging

Styrofoam is recyclable but few recycling centers will accept it

Styrofoam (or polystyrene) has been the standard for packing around electronics for years. Despite the fact that numerous recycling centers for this material have sprung up around the country, few municipalities accept it as part of their recycling stream – mostly due to lack of market demand and high transportation costs.

Now an international group of scientists has created a new type of biodegradable foam made from clay and casein, a protein found in cow’s milk.

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Computer memory manufacturer launches a memory card take-back program

Kingston Technology – a leading manufacturer of memory products for computers and other electronics including memory modules, USB drives, SD and microSD cars – has partnered with California-based Electronic Recyclers (ERI)- the largest electronics recycler in North America – to launch the first-ever mail-back program for unwanted memory cards and other memory products.

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BuyBackWorld gives good prices for electronic gadgets

We all have them – unused, outdated electronic gadgets crammed into drawers, closets and garages. It’s an “out of sight, out of mind” story with an “I’ll get to it sometime” mindset. 

An online marketplace called BuyBackWorld is a great fit for all those once-loved “toys”. This site will help you score you some added cash, clear out those chock-full places and help the environment, all at the same time. 

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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 www.reconnectpartnership.com.

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.