The United States Postal Service has selected DC as one of ten cities to participate in a pilot program for recycling used small electronics. Ten cities doesn’t sound like very many, but it includes over 1500 branches. If the program is successful it could go nationwide.
You can recycle your cell phones, PDAs, MP3 players, digital cameras, ink cartridges, and other small electronics by simply dropping them in the small, postage-paid mailer available at DC area USPS branches.
According to a press release on the USPS website, the free program has a corporate sponsor.
Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a nationally recognized company that rec
ycles, remanufactures and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: it does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.
It’s great the Postal Service is willing to participate in this program, enabling consumers to make environmentally friendly choices for their small electronics. I’ve wanted to test out the program so I took a field trip to my local Post Office branch. The box of return envelopes is not terribly large, so you might need to look around for it. Also, it appeared to be empty because the roll of envelopes was caught inside the box.
Once I had the envelope in hand, I was able to slide in a few different items. There are a few limitations which are not specified on the envelope. It is small, so whatever you slide inside must fit in a 5.5″ by 6.25″ envelope and total contents can’t weigh more than 13 ounces. The envelope doesn’t say the weight limit and I’m not going to pull out a scale to weigh the phones. If they want the phones, they’ll take them, right?
With a quick trip down the street to the
post office box, I was able to drop the mailer directly into the mail box. Because of the thickness of the phones I could not put it in the mail slot at the building where I live.
Overall I think the program is great. One suggestion is the USPS could include one mailer in each person’s mail box to increase the awareness of the program. Perhaps Clover Technologies Group should also pay for an advertising campaign to promote the project. I’ve shared the program’s information with many clients, friends, and local ‘green’ stores and no one had heard about the program. Perhaps the program can expand the number of locations the return envelopes are available? Most people avoid a trip to the post office at all cost!
If you’re reading this blog post and live in one of the 10 cities that is piloting this program, how did you hear about it?