Apple Announces Free iPod Recycling Program at U.S. Retail Stores

Apple Announces Free iPod Recycling Program at U.S. Retail Stores

Apple has announced a free recycling program for iPod, the world's most popular digital music player.

Customers can now bring iPods they no longer want to any of Apple's 100 retail stores in the U.S. for free disposal and a 10% discount on the purchase of a new iPod that day. iPods received for recycling in the U.S. are processed domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas.

The move comes in the wake of an ongoing campaign by environmental groups and shareholder activists calling on Apple to take more responsibility for the disposal of the electronic goods that it produces. During Apple's annual meeting, members of the Computer Takeback Campaign released a report detailing the shortcomings of Apple's recycling policies.

"Apple's announcement that they will take back their old iPods is a step in the right direction," said Robin Schneider, vice-chair of the national Computer TakeBack Campaign. "The Computer TakeBack Campaign is glad that Apple is finally listening to us and to their American consumers and taking responsibility for some of their iWaste. Now, Apple needs to agree to take back its whole range of products and to offer free and convenient takeback to consumers that don't live near Apple stores."

The Computer TakeBack Campaign had targeted Apple for poor design and ineffective takeback programs, pointing to the iPod, which does not allow consumers to replace the batteries once they can no longer hold a charge. Consumers must send them back to Apple and pay over $100 to get a new battery installed, which lead some consumers to purchase new products instead. Earlier this week, a California Court issued a proposed settlement of a class-action suit against Apple that would offer $50 vouchers towards Apple products to owners of older iPods who have experienced battery failure problems.

Apple's new recycling program was specifically requested at the company's annual shareholder meeting in April by a representative of Green Century Capital Management, an environmental investing firm.

"We're very happy to see Apple take this step," said Andrew Shalit, a shareholder advocate at Green Century. "As shareholders, we see it as a way to increase foot traffic in Apple Stores and increase iPod sales. As environmentalists, we know that it will reduce the amount of toxic waste in our landfills and help consumers understand that electronics manufacturers can and should take responsibility for e-waste."

Electronic waste (or "e-waste") refers to obsolete computers, monitors, and other consumer electronic products at the end of their useful lives, and are entering the waste stream. By diverting electronics into strictly controlled recycling programs, toxic substances in computers, like lead, mercury, and cadmium, are kept out of municipal landfills.

Activists and shareholders say they will continue to press Apple to expand its free recycling programs to cover computer equipment such as computers and monitors, as well as mp3 players, and to offer free and convenient recycling to consumers who do not live near an Apple Store.