Don’t Let Fake Recyclers Hijack Earth Day

Green Question Mark

Three years ago, Jill Vaske of Redemtech blogged that “Earth Day May Be Worst Day of Year for E-waste.” Her post is no longer available online (Redemtech was acquired by Arrow), so here is my quick summary…

Earth Day is a tremendous idea for increasing awareness of environmental issues. Unfortunately, fake recyclers exploit Earth Day to host collection events around the country.

It’s 2014 and I’m sad to say, fake recyclers still exploit Earth Day. Less than a mile from my office a not-for-profit recycler is hosting an Earth Day collection event. The event is advertised as a way to give back to the community, so I decided to stop by the event.

An organizer of the event touted that all profits generate would go to help individuals recovering from drug addiction and those suffering from autism…no doubt, a worthwhile cause. When I asked how she generated a profit from an event like this, she said they refurbish and resell computers (after wiping data, of course). When I asked what happens to the old junk that can’t be resold, she explained the junk would be “responsibly” recycled. She could offer no other details, but I really wanted to believe her.

Community e-waste collection events should be a convenient and responsible way for the public to safely discard unwanted electronics. However, these events should be sponsored by an e-Steward and/or R2 certified recyclers to ensure the public is not being duped by an unscrupulously fake recycler.

Without adhering to environmental standards, there is no way to be certain you aren’t donating your equipment (and your data) to a fake recycler. Fake recyclers do little more than “sort and ship” unwanted electronics to developing countries and create an e-waste nightmare for us to clean up later.

Don’t let fake recyclers hijack the Earth Day holiday. Before you turnover your outdated computers and unwanted electronics, ask the right questions.

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