Recently we covered Sony’s new recycling take back program, after doing a bit of follow up I was able to exchange a couple of emails with Rick Clancy, the Senior VP for corporate communications at Sony to get a more in depth look at the program. Mr Clancy has been with Sony for over 17 years, and amonge many others things runs the Sony Electronics Blog.
1. The Naib Recently Sony unveiled a program to take back its electronics for recycling. Could you tell us a bit about this program?
Rick Clancy Yes, Sony Electronics has teamed up with Waste Management to launch the Sony Take Back Recycling Program. Beginning on Sept. 15 consumers across the country will be able to bring any Sony-branded product to any of 75 participating Waste Management recycling centers and have that old or non-working product recycled free of charge. This applies to all Sony-branded products, including Sony Ericsson cellular phones and PlayStation videogame consoles. Other manufacturersâ€™ electronics devices can also be recycled at these centers for a modest fee. Within a yearâ€™s time, we expect the number of participating centers to double to 150, with at least one in every state. And eventually, we aim to have a center within 20 miles of 95 percent of the U.S. population.
2. The Naib What prompted Sony to start such a program?
Rick Clancy As the nationâ€™s leading marketer of consumer electronics products, our management strongly believes that Sony should also be in the forefront of environmental initiatives that demonstrate social responsibility with respect to the design, development, manufacture, usage and disposal of our products. The Sony Take Back Recycling Program is clearly such an initiative.
3. TN Can consumers return any Sony products, because I have this Walkman from the early 90′s sitting around some place andâ€¦
RC Absolutely, if the Sony name is on the product, any product, it can be returned for recycling at no charge.
4. TN I have heard of some e-waste companies sending their products overseas to be “recycled” where there are little if any environmental laws. This often involves open pit burning, and massive ecological destruction, not to mention health hazards to the workers and local residents. How does Sony plan on recycling the products it takes back from consumers?
RC The products that are returned to the participating Waste Management recycling centers will be broken down to their component materials, such as plastics, metals and glass. These materials will then be resold as commodities to manufacturers of various consumer and industrial products
4a. TN Will Sony and Waste Management be recycling these items in the United States, or will it be shipped to another country?
RC Yes, in the U.S.
4b. TN Will the recyclers follow acceptable environmental and labor practices?
5. TN With e-waste one of the fastest growing waste streams, are you aware of any industry wide standards that are being worked on to make it easy to recycle old electronics?
RC One of the challenges for manufacturers in the U.S. is that there is no federal law related to electronics disposal and recycling. Instead, there are some individual state laws that differ from one another or no law at all. With the Sony Take Back Recycling Program, we are taking individual producer responsibility for end-of-life products with a plan that will have national impact. Our long-term goal is recycle one pound of product for every pound of new Sony product sold in the U.S. And we would be delighted to have other electronics manufacturers and retailers join the program.
6. TN We also recently covered Sony’s Odo product line, could you tell us a bit about these products. The idea of human powered devices seems pretty interesting.
RC This is an exciting initiative by our design and development team that could potentially lead to consumer products that do not require electrical power supplies or batteries. At the moment, however, there is nothing more specific to announce.
7. TN Energy production is one of the largest producers of green house gasses, does Sony have any policies on energy efficiency of its products?
RC Yes, there a specific energy limits for all of the products Sony manufactures and markets. This includes both consumer electronics and products we produce for various professional markets like broadcasting and production.
7a. TN Is there any place I could find these standards, this sounds like a really cool idea.
RC Sony just published its worldwide CSR Report for 2007. Please look on the Sony corporate website out of Japan for a copy. You can go to the CSR web page directly at www.sony.net/csr. For inquiries regarding the report, you can also contact the Corporate Social Responsibility Dept. of Sony Corporation at 7-1, Konan 1-chome, Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0075.
8. TN Has the company made any changes in the way it operates to become more green?
RC In addition to the recycling and energy saving initiatives, Sony is also looking to develop more environmentally friendly packaging for our products. Even our office buildings and other facilities are being built or renovated with an eye toward being green.
8a. TN Do you have any examples, to show off these renovations. I am sure the readers would be interested in seeing them.
RC Our new headquarters building for the U.S. electronics operations that is being planned for our site here in San Diego will be a good example. It is scheduled for completion in 2009.
9. TN What do you think is the future of sustainable electronics? Solar powered everything? Fuel Cells? Organic materials (wood, stone etc)?
RC Recently I visited our Los Angeles Design Center and saw some amazing things in development, ranging from human powered devices to new forms of biodegradable packaging. And I am sure there will be a host of creative initiatives in the not too distant future.
10. TN What could you recommend as far as Sony’s current (or upcoming) products for someone interested in a sustainable and ecologically friendly device?
RC One in particular that I would recommend is the Sony Reader. Itâ€™s an e-book where you can have dozens of books stored on the internal memory and hundreds (even thousands) more on Memory Stick cards that slide into the device. Think of all the trees that can be spared if more people read e-books. Another great feature is that the Sony Reader uses very little energy. My understanding is the device can go through about 1,000 page turns without needing to be recharged.
TN Please tell me anything else about Sony, yourself, or anything else that you feel was not covered above, and you think would be interesting to my audience.
RC Iâ€™ve had the good fortune to work with Sony Electronics for more than 17 years, where is always something interesting going on in terms of innovative products, new technologies and creative programs like the Take Back Recycling effort.