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Best Buy Recycles 2 Billion Pounds of E-Waste and Appliances

Best Buy Recycles 2 Billion Pounds of E-Waste and Appliances
(Photo Credit: Mike Mozart, Flickr Creative Commons)

Best Buy reported that it has collected 2 billion pounds of e-waste and appliances for recycling since launching a consumer electronics takeback program in 2009. Now the retailer is expanding the consumer program, and working to increase waste diversion for all US operations.

A decade ago, the recycling program for consumers began as sporadic takeback events in store parking lots, according to the company. Over time, Best Buy transformed the effort into a reverse logistical program with almost 1,000 stores taking electronics for free each day that they’re open. Best Buy’s haul-away service accepts large TVs and appliances for a fee.

On Wednesday, Best Buy expanded the program so that Geek Squad agents and in-home advisors making house calls can accept electronic items that don’t contain any personal data — such as cables, cords, Wi-Fi gear, and audio equipment — for recycling.

“At Best Buy, we aspire to drive forward the circular economy in which we keep resources (or products) in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from the products while in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of life,” says the company’s latest corporate responsibility and sustainability report, published this month.

The retailer is also working on addressing waste internally. Best Buy targeted an 85% waste diversion rate for all US operations by the end of FY 2020. To get there, the company is exploring new ways to manage waste including zero waste facilities as well as new technologies and equipment that can reduce hauls.

One strategy involves replacing or installing 110 new cardboard balers and 93 compactors inside stores because cardboard makes up 80% of operations waste. New balers have smaller footprints so they can be installed in stores with limited warehouse space, the company said.

For distribution centers, Best Buy reported already achieving a waste diversion rate above 80%. “We attribute this success to a lower employee turnover rate, dedicated labor and the installation of additional equipment, such as polystyrene densifiers, which break apart and melt polystyrene into condensed cubes, taking up less room on trucks,” the company’s report says. “All of our distribution centers will have densifiers by FY20.”

Key challenges remain, however such as fewer material recovery facilities, regulations limiting waste sent to china, and a lower value for commodities like cardboard.

Read the company’s full report here.

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