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Sony Launches Free Recycling Program

Sony has launched a recycling program that allows consumers to recycle all Sony-branded products for no fee at 75 Waste Management Recycle America eCycling drop-off centers throughout the U.S.

The Sony Take Back Recycling Program begins on Sept. 15 and was developed in collaboration with WM Recycle America. The program also allows consumers to recycle other manufacturers’ consumer electronics products at market prices, and may include a recycling fee for some types of materials.

Sony says it will expand the number of eCycling drop-off centers to at least 150 sites within a year, with at least one location in every state. Consumers will also have the option of shipping their used Sony electronics products to select WM Recycle America locations. Ultimately, Sony wants a recycling center within 20 miles of 95 percent of the U.S. population.

It will be interesting to see how Sony’s move will affect its ranking on Greenpeace’s next greener electronics report. In June’s report, Sony was called the “biggest loser” in the race, languishing at the bottom along with LGE, penalized for double standards on their waste policies.

As the technology industry sees continued growth, the amount of electronic waste is also increasing. A study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that in 2005 used or unwanted electronics amounted to about 1.9 to 2.2 million tons, according to Sony. Of that, some 1.5 to 1.9 million tons was primarily discarded in landfills, and only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled.

In December, Dell announced that it had launched free recycling in several additional markets, meeting a timetable set in June to provide free recycling of any Dell-branded product for consumers worldwide as part of its global recycling policy. This summer, Dell said it was ahead of schedule to achieve a multi-year goal of recovering 275 million pounds of computer equipment by 2009.

In June, HP announced that it had met its goal of recycling 1 billion pounds of electronics. HP says that in 2006, it recovered 187 million pounds of electronics globally.

Apple recently discussed its recycling plans.

Sony recently released a CSR report showing that in fiscal 2006, Sony’s greenhouse gas emissions totaled approximately 20.53 million tons, up approximately 17 percent from fiscal 2005.

Overall, PC and electronics makers have never given much thought to environmental issues, according to a recent USAToday article. That is, until now. For the first time, almost every major PC and electronics maker is trying to change that.

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