How Samsung is keeping e-waste from the landfill

One gripe leveled at consumer electronics companies is the rate at which their technologies become obsolete, often by design.

While that's great for selling new products, it encourages people to throw out products with plenty of life left, causing a global electronic waste problem.

Korea's Samsung Electronics hopes to differentiate itself in the fiercely competitive high-definition TV marketplace by incorporating the ability to upgrade into their design.

If a customer buys a premium-level TV, they can simply attach Samsung's "Evolution Kit" in a slot in the back. That makes a 2012 TV operate like a 2013 Smart TV -- with faster processing capabilities, new voice control options, the ability to run multiple channels simultaneously and enough computer memory to handle the latest high-definition programming.

"The Evolution Kit is a truly innovative concept from Samsung that allows consumers to enjoy the latest features and services every year without without having to purchase a brand new TV," says Robert King, vice president of consumer electronics at Samsung U.K. and Ireland.

It will likely cost less than $500 when it becomes commercially available this March, but that's much less than buying a new television...and it gives Samsung another sale.

Here's a video about the Evolution Kit:

The electronics industry is making recycling a priority these days, with a goal to recycle 1 billion pounds a year by 2016. Since major companies joined to promote recycling a couple of years ago, it's jumped 53 percent.

In 2011, leading companies such as Best Buy, Panasonic, Sony and Toshiba America collected 460 million pounds of gadgets, up from 300 million pounds the previous year.

The U.S. government has also taken steps to address electronics waste.

This story is reprinted with permission from Sustainable Business.

Photo of street in Beijing provided by testing via Shutterstock.