The Green Wave: 5 Tech Trends That Will Accelerate E-Cycling*

Posted on June 23, 2012

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ImageThere’s a subtle part of Apple’s WWDC that many analysts overlooked, yet it will have an ongoing impact on how we use and reuse consumer electronics. Within a few seconds after showing the new MacBook Pro feature set, Philip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Apple, showed theEnvironmental Checklist. This was the first time in Apple’s product announcement history that environmentally friendly attributes were placed on an equal footing with newly released product features. We can expect this for the iPhone 5. More importantly, when Apple speaks, consumers should listen. Apple has been the king of consumer experience and they have set the stage for how we’ll behave differently in the future: they expect consumers to e-cycle. According to the EPA, less than 20 percent of all electronics are recycled and the vast majority are disposed of, mostly in landfills. It’s time that we e-cycle.

Apple is an integral part of a significant eco-shift in the consumer electronics (CE) industry, yet it’s part of a larger Green Wave. Here are 5 Tech Trends that will accelerate e-cycling:

Apple Env. checklist1) Apple and Samsung lead the CE industry: Since I wrote about the Battle of the Green Giants last October, Apple and Samsung have accelerated their race to be the greenest CE company in the world. Each is convinced that green initiatives will help drive consumers’ choices and brand loyalty. Since Apple and Samsung drive 55% of global smartphone shipments, they will continue to drive eco-friendly attributes of other CE manufacturers’ products.

2) Retailers are Increasing Incentives:Best Buy is the first retailer who initiated e-cycling incentives for consumers and have been regularly promoting their Trade-In/Trade-Up Program through recent commercials. AppleOffice Depot and Staplesare other retailers that have in-store buyback and e-cycling programs. In addition, all of the major carriers offer their own e-cycling incentives for mobile phones. AT&TVerizonand Sprint offer cash back via e-gift cards, yet Verizon and Sprint also offer donation options for community service programs. Although T-Mobile has an e-cycling initiative, it’s not clear whether there’s any cash incentive – only the comfort that you are helping sustain a greener planet. You can expect to see more retailers join the e-cycling bandwagon to stay competitive.

uSell3) ReCommerce is Real: Recommerce is the process of reverse commerce or recovering products through a ReCommerce e-tailer that will purchase your old electronics in order to reuse or recycle them. There is one ReCommerce site – uSell.com – that is the Kayak.com of CE buyback websites because it compares cash offers and user reviews from multiple buyback sites so that users can get the best offer for each device. I quickly tested a buyback scenario for a 16GB iPhone 4 on uSell.com and three other sites that do not offer comparison offers yet do provide recommerce services: Gazelle, NextWorth and YouRenew. In all cases, uSell provided an offer that was 7% – 26% better than the standalone sites. Other device buyback scenarios I tested yielded consistent results ranging from 10 to 25% better offers on uSell than standalone sites. So you can save time and yield more by leveraging uSell, the ReCommerce aggregator.

CTIA site4) CTIA has set new goals: During the openingKeynote Session for CTIA 2012, Patrick Riordan, the new CTIA Chairman as well as CEO of Cellcom, announced “A Commitment to Sustainability by 2015:”

  • Increase e-cycling collection rate by 20% and
  • Utilize recycled plastic for the phone housings of 25% of each company’s device portfolio.

That which get measured will get managed, so all CTIA members will be striving toward those goals. These new goals supplement an earlier CTIA campaign called “Go Wireless, Go Green.”

5) The Growth Rate of Green Cellphones is Significantly Increasing: Last month Juniper Research released a new report that forecasts more than a 10X growth rate in green cellphone sales worldwide over the next 5 years: from 31 million in 2012 to 392 million in 2017. Over half of the nearly 400 million to be sold in 2017 will be green smartphones. Green handsets are defined as those that are free of hazardous chemicals and contain more than 50% of recyclable materials. In order for cellphone manufacturers to differentiate themselves from the competition, more will need to focus on the environmental impact of all phases of the product life cycle process – especially how to eliminate the grave (through e-cycling) in what CE manufacturers used to see as a “cradle to grave” life cycle.

Tell us: Are you 100% committed toward e-cycling in the future? If not, what would it take for you to do so? (Check out the EPA website for more options available for e-cycling.)

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© 2012 by Ed Valdez. All rights reserved.

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* Article first published on Technorati as “The Green Wave: Five Tech Trends That Will Accelerate E-Cycling”

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Posted in: Eco Leader