Sunday, July 13, 2008

Don't trash your iPod! Flick It!

If your old iPod is no longer working, it can be recycled in an environmentally responsible manner. If it’s still playing, you can sell it or give it away. Just don’t throw it in the trash. 

E-waste is not just a problem from the standpoint of growing landfills. Materials inside computers and small electronics (including iPods) are toxic — brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are of particular concern. “These are things we’ve found to make our products better, but they have definite health risks for all of us that are using them or working and living around them. Both of these are carcinogens.”

Experts say BFRs and PVC are harmful only during manufacture and processing, but flame retardants can be found in dust particles inside computers. And PVC, which can be found in everything from shower curtains to computer products, can harm immune and reproductive systems. “That smell is something our society has come to recognize as the ‘new product smell. It’s the PVC off-gassing off of those products.”

Flick your iPod!

So how can you keep your old iPod — and its BFRs and PVC — out of the landfill? Apple Computer has a take-back program that reclaims old iPods for processing, and gives you 10 percent off the purchase of a new one.

Representatives for Apple say the company doesn’t know how many old iPods have come back to Portland-area stores, and wouldn’t say how many iPods have been reclaimed through its take-back program. According to the company Web site, Apple will eliminate the use of PVC and BFRs in its products by the end of 2008, and iPods gathered through the take-back program in the United States are processed domestically rather than being shipped overseas.

Apple has sold more than 120 million iPods overall and says it already has shipped more than 3 million iPods with BFR-free logic boards. Apple’s take-back program is a great way to make sure e-waste is being handled responsibly, and encourages consumers to approach other companies about making sure their products are being disposed of properly.

Apple Computer’s iPod Take-Back Program

Take your old iPod to your local Apple Store, or visit Apple’s iPod Recycling Web page:


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