E-Wasteland at Best Buy

Best Buy has launched an electronics recycling program in 117 stores.© Getty Images

Best Buy has launched a pilot program to test free "take back" of used electronics. The nation’s largest electronics retailer will accept electronics purchased anywhere at 117 stores in the San Francisco, Minneapolis and Baltimore/Washington, DC metro areas.

"We want to take the time to learn if we can handle this before we go any further," Best Buy spokeswoman Kelly Groehler told reporters. "We know the need is there and the waste stream is there." If the pilot program goes well, Best Buy will consider expanding the unprecedented electronics recycling program to all of its 922 U.S. stores.

The idea came about when the non-profit As You Sow, an investor corporate accountability group, filed a shareholder resolution proposal last fall with Best Buy asking the company to test free take back in its stores. The company agreed, and the resulting test is the first ongoing free take back of consumer electronics offered by a major retail chain in the U.S.

"We salute Best Buy for taking the initiative to test free electronics take back at a significantnumber of its stores," says Conrad MacKerron, director of As You Sow"s corporate socialresponsibility program. "Making electronics recycling almost as easy as purchasing these goodshas the potential to simplify recycling efforts for millions of consumers who may be confusedabout where to recycle goods in their area."

Best Buy is not the first company involved in the electronics sector that As You Sow has influenced. Both Apple and Dell improved their computer recycling programs after discussions with As You Sow, which occupies a unique and influential niche at the intersection of environmental and shareholder advocacy.

Sources: As You Sow; NRDC