An environmental watchdog group has issued a new report card, giving Dell props for executing a program under which customers can easily return old gear for recycling by the manufacturer. Apple, which often crows about its green cred, received only a C+ for its device take-back and recycling programs.
The report card, produced by the Electronics Take-Back Coalition, scores each electronics maker on how many recycling drop-off centers it has (even in states where the law doesn’t require them), on the volume of recyclable devices currently being taken in, and on the way the manufacturer goes about recycling returned devices.
Dell and Samsung go green
The group’s national coordinator, Barbara Kyle, praises Dell on its efforts over the past two years to set up a working infrastructure to accept, receive, process, and recycle its worn-out gear. Kyle says that just two years ago Dell’s take-back/recycle program consisted merely of an offer to consumers to mail back their device. Now the company has drop-off centers at its stores across the United States, and it has partnered with Goodwill drop-off sites to accept its dead computers.
Samsung gets credit in the report for doing roughly the same thing during recent years, earning a grade of B-.
Apple, for all its claims of environmental friendliness (which some critics have disputed in regards to the iPhone), garnered only a C+ grade for its take-back and recycling programs. The report points out that although Apple has a mail-back program and that the company will take back your old computer in the store when you buy a new one, it will not allow you to just drop off an inoperable device at one of its stores for recycling--nor will it take back a nonworking, non-Apple device without a $30 charge.
On the other hand, an Apple spokesperson told me that you can bring an old iPhone in for recycling, and that Apple will give you 10 percent off the purchase of a new iPod if you bring in your old one for recycling. The spokesperson told me that Apple has no direct comment on the company's mediocre report-card grade, and she directed me to Apple's Recycling Program page for more information.
The report also dings Apple on its lack of transparency about the amount of take-back and recycling it’s actually doing. “Apple doesn't disclose volume information, and doesn't provide any way to evaluate whether Apple is collecting high volumes in nonmandated states in addition to states that require it to,” the report states.
All in all, the major U.S. PC, TV, and printer manufacturers had a poor showing in the report. Of the 29 graded, none received an A grade. In fact, 21 received a mark of C- or lower, and 12 of them received failing grades.