Printer companies not making the grade

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition released a new report card that grades computer, television, printer and game console companies on their efforts to take back and recycle their old products. Most of the manufacturers passed muster, but most printer companies and some television companies flunked.

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 (which is now owned by Technicolor).

Samsung also got a “dishonorable mention” because of concerns about their occupational health record at manufacturing plants in Korea.

“Announcing that you have a takeback program really isn’t enough,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Texas Campaign for the Environment, and vice chair of the Electronics TakeBack Coalition. “Most electronics companies have some kind of takeback program – but what we are looking at is whether these programs are actually effective in collecting their old products, and are making sure they are not just being exported to developing nations.”

Companies generally performed poorly in the “responsible recycling” category, which requires transparency in recycling policies, vendor requirements and vendors used, as well as giving the most credit to companies whose recyclers are qualified under the e-Stewards program. The e-Stewards program evaluates electronics recyclers against the highest standards in the industry, including a ban on exporting toxic e-waste (included untested and non-working products) to developing countries. The program has evolved from a voluntary “Pledge” program into a certification program with comprehensive standards and accredited third party auditors who certify whether a recycler conforms to the standard.

The report card was released in advance of the holiday buying season, when consumers typically buy a large volume of electronics in the United States.