A couple months back I posted an article by guest blogger Amanda Brand of the Go-Green N' Save Blog about the fate of e-waste, notably toner cartridges. The article which cast light upon one dark area of the "green movement" was educational and indeed, a good pitch at potential customers why they should switch to re-manufactured toner cartridges over OEM. The post hit hard showcasing the sad truth that many recycling companies choose to sell toner cartridges and other such e-waste to Chinese "recyclers". In all honesty much of this waste ends up in the streets, rivers, and virtually any open space in the town of Guiyu, China (and other similar communities around the world). Children play upon heaps of old computers, broken monitors, circuit boards, wires, toner cartridges and a whole universe of junk technology. Fires spewing black smoke into the air burning away plastic so that folks can sell the precious metals inside for whatever they can get fill the air with toxic fumes.
As a marketing professional it was a no-brainer. Like a hungry journalist I jumped at the opportunity to not only help Amanda get an audience for her post through our blog, something which in theory would benefit us both (she was kind enough to return the favor and post one of my articles with links on her blog) but also to use this information to hopefully capture new customers for our own line of re-manufactured toner cartridges which at the end of their life are fully recycled here in the USA at our own plant in Southbridge, MA.
In that respect I realize that marketing and advertising is not unlike sorcery in many ways. We are paid to combine colors and symbolic images into ads, videos and or other such mediums with the intent to manifest emotional reactions from people that will aid in our quest to get them to buy our products. I am fortunate to work for a company like Expert Laser Services who actually provides a green product that not only saves our customers money, but when the product fully loses its use and profitability, it is in fact fully recycled and the fate of such waste is guaranteed not to be Guiyu, China or for that matter, the landfill in your community. This can not be said for all companies and I would advise you to be weary of messages that make you feel warm and fuzzy and also be sure to check out the company behind any slick marketing piece.
With that being said I would implore you to please do your homework. Many companies talk the good talk but only in the spirit of financial gain. A little digging may help you have a clear conscience when it comes to your own actions in regards to what you do with that spent cartridge, cell phone, computer etc. Sure, the small town of Guiyu, China is a world away, but if it was your child playing in a heap broken metal, plastic and glass surely you would think twice about who you give your e-waste to. A little poking around, a phone call, and a quick web search may help you find a recycler who can truly stand upon the integrity they claim to have.