Story of Electronics: watch, enjoy, share

The Story of Electronics – from the folks who made the wildly popular Story of Stuff web film – explores the high-tech revolution’s collateral damage: 6 billion tons of e-waste and counting, and other (often hidden) consequences for high tech workers, the environment and us. Watch it, then share it with your friends & family on Facebook, via e-mail and on your other social networking sites!

The new web short is raising the profile of high-tech trash worldwide, generating coverage from Discover Magazine, USA Today, The Independent and Fast Company. Help spread the word as the holiday shopping season begins: there are steps we can take today to make sure our high-tech toys don’t come with such a steep environmental price.

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Spotlight: Producer TakeBack Recycling

This recent article in the Technology and Science blog, “A Long Term Recycling Plan For Your Products“, highlights the limitations of traditional recycling and the long-term solutions Producer TakeBack programs can offer. From the post:

“Recycling is a great reclamation for our planet and for the environment. But when it comes to our waste problems in America and the world, will recycling alone will bring about a reasonable resolution? The blunt answer is “No”. There are an abundance of reasons for why our current system of consumer recycling will not be enough. Producers and manufacturers have an obligation to their customers and the world to absolutely ensure their products are being recycled by doing things such as partnering and working in concert with waste management institutions. This is the only way real change will take effect to the degree that our planet’s environmental waste crisis demands it. Corporations must take the ultimate responsibility for going green by planning for recycling solutions for all their products before distribution and consumption.”

Read more here.

Spotlight: pharmacuetical waste

Don’t flush or trash your old pills, unless you want them to end up in our drinking water! In 2008, an AP investigation found that “A vast array of pharmaceuticals – including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones – have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans.” Not good!

We’d like to see Producer TakeBack programs in place that would make it easy for anyone to return their unused pharmaceuticals. And we’re not the only ones. From the Product Policy Institute:

“The National Association of Counties (NACo), the country’s largest local government organization, has unanimously adopted a policy supporting producer responsibility for unwanted medicines. The expense of taking back unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs would be handled by the pharmaceutical industry, without relying on state or local government funding.”

This won’t be a simple solution; drug enforcement laws can be quite complicated when it comes to recovering old pills. But the principal that the manufacturers should be responsible for their waste should still apply.

In some states and cities, manufacturers are teaming up with local pharmacies and law enforcement agencies to provide free, convenient recycling locations — usually at the nearest drugstore. We’re already seeing the beginnings of such a system in Texas. Here’s a current map of local participating drugstores. Recycle away!