Recycling our bottles, cans and paper is as easy as walking down to the curb once a week, but what about those other things our town doesn't give us a bin for? The United States Postal Service has answered this question with this weeks launch of a pilot "Mail Back" program. The program make it easier for all of us to recycle our discarded small electronics (inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods & MP3 players), as easy as walking down to your mailbox.
The USPS has partnered with Clover Technologies Group to make this possible. They are providing addressed prepaid envelopes free of charge that can be used to ship small electronic devices to Clover Tech for recycling. The envelopes are currently available at 1500 USPS locations within 10 pilot cities.
Clover Technologies collects, recycles and resells the discarded electronics. They state that they have a "zero waste to landfill" policy and they strive to avoid contributing any materials to the nations landfills. If they cannot refurbish an item they will break it down and either use the parts in other remanufacturing efforts, or break it down even further into recyclable parts.
Recycling electronics is particularly important because many of them contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. When discarded electronic items are not handled properly these toxic materials can end up in our soil and ground water.
The USPS announced that Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and San Diego will be participating in the pilot, and if all goes well, they plan to roll the program out nationwide in the fall. We'll update you when we have more information about specific locations that are participating. You can go to USPS.com for updates, although, as of today, there is nothing posted on the front page about the program and the only thing we could find is this Press Release.