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‘Take back’, takes off

What do you do with a ‘dead’ phone? Give it to the maid or driver, or exchange it to get a few hundreds off on a new one? Here’s another option — give it back to the company, which will recycle it in an eco-friendly way. You may not get anything for it, but there is the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done your bit for the environment. Gargi Gupta reports.

india Updated: May 09, 2009 23:27 IST
Gargi Gupta

What do you do with a ‘dead’ phone? Give it to the maid or driver, or exchange it to get a few hundreds off on a new one? Here’s another option — give it back to the company, which will recycle it in an eco-friendly way. You may not get anything for it, but there is the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve done your bit for the environment.

This is important because mobile phones contain toxic chemicals like lead, cadmium, mercury, etc and if burnt in an incinerator or dumped in a landfill — which is what generally happens — pollute the air and soil. Anyway, electronic waste — discarded computers and peripherals, TVs, mobile phones — will become a huge problem in the days to come. ‘Take back’ schemes have been around for some years now, especially in the Europe Union which has stringent laws. But it’s now beginning to take off in India, albeit in a small way, with mobile phones and computers. Here’re a few companies that offer ‘take back’ and how to reach them.

Nokia
Launched a full scale ‘take back’ policy in India in January this year
n A network of 1,300 recycle bins located at priority dealers and customer care centres where you can drop phones, batteries, hands-frees, etc of Nokia and other brands. Just SMS ‘green’ to 55555 to find the nearest bin. Nokia also undertakes to plant a tree for every handset it gets. Plus, you get a Nokia mug with green messages.

Samsung
Has had a ‘take back’ policy for mobile phones since September last year. But it’s a well kept secret — the only communication from the company are notices in its 28 collection centres across India.
n Samsung India is considering extending the policy to TVs, ACs, fridges.

LG
Launched ‘take back’ of its mobile phones two months ago, with a network of 50 collection bins at service centres and branch offices. Pamphlets inside new handsets tell buyers about where to go but existing users will have to wait for the new LG India website, or troop down to a branch office to know where to find the bins.

Wipro
Has had a ‘take back’ policy for Wipro branded products for some years now
n Customers can drop their stuff at 17 collection centres across the country. The Wipro website also gives names, addresses, email ids and phone numbers of whom to contact. But it’s not entirely free. Customer are required to pay Rs 5-7 per kg “towards freight and logistics” — which works out to Rs 150-170 for a typical computer.

Dell
Has had a ‘take back’ policy in India for Dell products since 2006. It’s free for individual consumers and Dell has the old computers picked up from your house. Anyone who wants to make use of it must write to the company

Lenovo
Has had a recycling programme for end-of-life Lenovo and IBM PCs, etc since September 2007 — but they haven’t got back a single computer. Phone numbers and email ids are on the company website. The service is free and machines are picked up from users' homes.

HCL
Has had a ‘take back’ policy since 2007 for its own products to individuals; for companies there’re “upgradation and replacement options”.

The HCL Infosystems website gives directions to its EcoSafe helpdesk with phone numbers and an email id, ewaste.safe@hcl.in. Plus, there are addresses of 11 collection centres across India where consumers can drop discarded machines. It’s free but consumers must bear the transportation costs.

Philips
Has recently started a pilot project in India, in line with such programmes in Europe. Damaged, end-of-life Philips products can be dropped off at 27 authorised service centres in eight cities across India, the details of which are on the Philips India website.