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Why Best Buy Is the Electronic Recycling King

Gina-Marie Cheeseman
| Wednesday December 23rd, 2009 | 0 Comments

In October, I wrote a post titled Best Buy’s Environmental Efforts. As the likely biggest collector of electronic waste in the U.S., Best Buy merits a second post. A GreenBiz.com article calls Best Buy a “pioneer when it comes to electronics takeback.” The $40 billion a year company has an electronic recycling program allowing customers to bring their used electronics and appliances to any of its 1,044 stores. From there, the goods are sent to recyclers.  Since the free program began in March, it has collected more than 25 million pounds of electronics. In 2008, before offering free recycling, Best Buy collected 43,672 tons of old electronics and appliances.

Best Buy does charge a $10 fee for appliances and television 32 inches or larger, but customers are given a $10 gift card. The company tracks the usage of gift cards in order to determine if recycling offers attract new customers. “We’re trying to see what the behavior patterns are of customers who recycle,” said CEO Brian Dunn. “What do they buy next?” Best Buy’s decision to offer free recycling was employee- and customer-driven. “For us, it wasn’t founder-driven or crisis-driven,” said Brian Dunn.

Dunn spoke about his role as a CEO:

One of my roles as CEO is to be the chief listener. I don’t believe that the model is any longer that there are a few really smart people at the top of the pyramid that make all the strategic decisions. It is much more about being all around the enterprise, and looking for people with great ideas and passionate points of view that are anchored to the business and connected to things our customers care about.

Best Buy audits its suppliers’ factories, most of which are located in Asia, and has severed ties with 26 of them, out of 200, for failing to meet the retailer’s Supplier Compliance Standards. According to the company’s website, the standards “embody those embraced they the Fair Labor Association Workplace Code of Conduct and the core labor standards of the International Labor Organization.” The standards also “address expectations for environmental stewardship and international security requirements.”


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