Best Buy Kicks Off Nationwide Recycling Program

If you are looking to get rid of an old computer, TV, or consumer electronics device, all Best Buy stores, nationwide, will help you recycle it. Starting on the day after Valentine's Day--Sunday, February 15--all 1,006 of the Best Buy stores in the U.S. (Puerto Rico will be added in 2010), will be participating in Best Buy's new electronics recycling program.

Unless you live in California, it will cost you $10 per item to recycle items that have screens, such as TVs, computer monitors, or laptops. You can recycle TVs up to 32-inches in size, and Best Buy will waive the fee for " Best Buy's Exclusive-Branded products, such as Insignia, Dynex, and VPR Matrix ;" however, consumers " will instantly receive a $10 Best Buy gift card in exchange for the recycling fee ." Other items, such as desktop computers, VCRs, telephones, and even remote controls can be recycled at not cost. Consumers can drop off up to two units per day, per household. It is not clear if Best Buy considers a VCR and a remote as one item or two. If Best Buy counts each item truly separate, then it might actually take you a couple of days to recycle a desktop computer, monitor, keyboard, and mouse at Best Buy.

This is not Best Buy's first foray into consumer recycling. Best Buy claims that every Best Buy store has recycling kiosks located at the front of the store where consumers can drop off " ink cartridges, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, CDs, DVDs, and PDA/smart phones ." Additionally, if you use Best Buy's Home Delivery service to deliver an appliance, or use Best Buy’s Geek Squad Home Theater Installation Service for TV delivery and installation, the delivery crew can haul away the appliance or TV you are replacing at no cost. Even if you're not buying a new appliance or TV from Best Buy, you can still arrange for Best Buy to pick up two appliances or TVs from your home for recycling for $100 (plus $20 for each additional item).

Best Buy also has an online-based, Best Buy Trade-in Center , where you can get cash for your old computers and consumer electronics. You first fill out an "Estimator" form to determine how much you will get paid for your old item. If you agree to the estimated value, you send the item into Best Buy's trade-in center using a pre-paid shipping label, and then you'll finally receive a Best Buy gift card in the mail a few weeks later. Note that older products tend to have little to no trade-in value; you'll likely only be able to trade in fairly new items that you are upgrading.

While it is easy to get rid of old computers, TVs, and consumer electronics by just put them out with the trash, doing so is not being environmentally conscientious. Electronics that make their way into landfills can leak toxins and carcinogens into the ground and perhaps even into nearby water sources. In fact, in some states it is illegal to discard CRTs--they must be recycled. Some manufacturers, such as Apple , have reduced the amount of toxins used to manufacturer their devices; but we're still a long way off from having truly non-toxic, biodegradable consumer electronics. Until that day comes, recycling is the next best thing.