Best Buy Rolls Back its Environmental Commitments

Old electronics dropped off by Best Buy customers await recycling. December 2015.

Old electronics dropped off by Best Buy customers await recycling. December 2015.

Best Buy has long collected old electronics from customers for recycling and used the most responsible recyclers – e-Stewards Certified Recyclers.

Until now.

The electronics retail giant has just dropped the requirement that recyclers be certified as e-Stewards. Best Buy admitted that it’s been losing money on the program, so it let go of the e-Stewards requirement to cut costs.

We absolutely sympathize with Best Buy’s need to at least break even on a voluntary program that benefits the public. However, lessening environmental and social responsibility to cut costs isn’t the way to go.

The real culprit here is the makers of the electronics in the first place. Electronics manufacturers need to account for the cost of recycling the products they make. With commodity prices like gold and copper as low as they are now, recyclers aren’t able to sell the precious metals they recover from our e-waste to cover their costs.

Manufacturers should be helping retailers like Best Buy foot the bill for helping us recycle our old gadgets safely when we upgrade to the newest one. In many countries – like Japan, China, and the EU – it’s the law. It’s called extended producer responsibility.

But here in the US, manufacturers aren’t paying recyclers the new, real cost of recycling their toxic, old products. We’re working with environmental groups to change these policies now.

In the meantime, wondering what do you do with your old gadgets? We recommend using an e-Stewards Certified Recycler, or dropping them off at a Staples store for free, which uses only e-Stewards recyclers.

To learn more about responsible recycling, click here. Read our full press release here.