The Next Steps In Cellphone (and Electronics) Recycling: Redesign, Refocus on Software

Greg Galitzine : Green Blog
Greg Galitzine
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The Next Steps In Cellphone (and Electronics) Recycling: Redesign, Refocus on Software

Cellphone recycling is beginning to take off and that's great news for the environment and ultimately for all of us.

The latest such move is Recycle My Cell, a new Web-based nationwide initiative launched by Canada's wireless industry that lets users find out where and how to properly dispose of their cell phones and other wireless devices - regardless of carrier, brand, or condition. 

The free program in the country that brought us the BlackBerry incorporates numerous existing cell phone recycling initiatives is being organized by the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) in conjunction with cell phone service providers, handset manufacturers, and recycling companies.

Recycle My Cell can be adopted by provinces and municipalities as part of their initiatives to manage e-waste. Nova Scotia, on Canada's east coast, is the first province to have done so.

Canadian retailers are already on board with cellphone recycling. BestBuy in Canada, through a partnership with Greentec, allows consumers to recycle their unwanted wireless devices, along with MP3 players, batteries, ink cartridges, and CDs by visiting a Best Buy store and dropping their items into their recycling stations. Best Buy doesn't accept computers (desktop and laptops), TVs, DVD players, and speakers.

The CWTA, the province of Nova Scotia, and retailers like Best Buy deserve praise for their actions to curb harmful e-waste through their recycling programs. Yet shouldn't the wireless and other electronic equipment manufacturers do their share to address this issue at the source by:

--Using less harmful substances 

--Making products repairable and easily remodeled i.e. taking a page from the automotive industry and change the casings to reflect fashion shifts rather than the guts

The wireless carriers, telcos, and ISPs are in a position to insist on such standards. Make these goods right or we won't buy, sell, or support them.  With the economic downturn manufacturers will have little choice but to go along. 

The hard truth is that bandwidth and services i.e. 3G, 4G, data, video, IP over wireless, and web services like mobile CRM matter more to consumers than the boxes they are carried on. 

The same goes for computers. As Microsoft demonstrated over 20 years ago by 'becoming the dog' in its relationship with IBM, it's not about the hardware, it's about the software and what it can do that matters. And with more software going on the web i.e. hosted/SaaS rather than in boxes, the less often nasty stuff there needs to be in those compartments, which means ultimately less e-waste and pollution.



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