Updated: If you've got an old Vaio notebook, Sony has made it easier to discard it.
The Japanese electronics giant today launched GreenFill, an in-store recycling service. Go to any one of its 81 current participating retailers, drop off your old electronics and go. Sony recycles it for free, even if they didn't make it. The program compliments an ongoing recycling program by Sony, under which Sony charges a nominal fee for non-Sony products.
One of the big issues with electronic recycling has been how to implement it. Major manufacturers such as Panasonic, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp and Toshiba have all launched recycling efforts. California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, the E.U. and other governmental agencies also impose fees on electronics for recycling and many more are contemplating regulations.
But rare is the jurisdiction that supplies a separate household bin for electronics, which leads to hundreds of old phones (not to mention CFL bulbs) piling up. Roughly 80 million analog TVs will get heaved out in 2008 and 2009 because of the push to digital, according to industry statistics. The glass in an old tube TV consists of about 22 percent lead.
Even without the digital TV mandate, waste has been piling up. Roughly 65 million pounds of e-waste was recycled in 2005 in California alone after the state passed a recycling law and the figure shot up to 120 million pounds in 2006. More than 200 million pounds was hashed in 2007.
What happens to all of this old stuff? Recyclers like Electronic Recyclers try to refurbish it and resell it. If that's not possible, they crush and shred them and sell the raw materials.
Correction: we orginally said that Sony charges a nominal fee for non-Sony products under GreenFill. The nominal fee only applies to the preexisting recycling program.