Which Electronics Companies Recycle Best?

| Tue Oct. 19, 2010 4:44 PM EDT

Yesterday I reported on the environmental impact of new vs. refurbished computers. Refurbished computers won handily as the best choice for the planet (and your wallet). But what about when your electronic device is finally completely kaput? Best case scenario is that the company that you bought it from runs an excellent recycling program. But that's not always the case.

Today, the Electronics TakeBack Coalition issued a Green Electronics Recycling Report Card, evaluating companies on their programs for recycling their own products. The findings, according to a press release:

The highest marks go to Dell, Samsung, and Asus, but there were still some companies with failing grades, including Brother, Kodak, Lexmark, Philips, Funai, Epson, and RCA (now owned by Technicolor).  Samsung also got a “dishonorable mention” because of concerns about their occupational health record at manufacturing plants in Korea where many young workers have been diagnosed with blood cancers and several have already died.

One overall trend: Companies that manufacture printers get woefully low grades. That's because most printer makers only take their products back through mail-in programs, but according to the ETC, most people don't actually bother to mail back a product as bulky as a printer. So what's the solution? Store-based drop-off stations? Or, like the death of the compostable SunChips bag, does this say more about consumers than it does about companies?

Check out the report card here, and ETC's grading criteria here (pdf).