Tag Archives: recycle

Greenpeace: Majority of consumers think manufacturers should recycle mobiles

Consumers say mobile phone manufacturers are releasing too many new models, according to a survey Greenpeace commissioned across six countries.

In all countries surveyed, consumers were most likely to say that mobile phone manufacturers should be responsible for providing people with the means to recycle their phones, while four in five surveyed said that it was important that a new smartphone can be easily repaired if damaged.

“The humble smartphone puts enormous strain on our environment from the moment they are produced — often with hazardous chemicals — to the moment they are disposed of in huge e-waste sites,” said Chih An Lee, Global IT Campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia.

“Over half of respondents across the countries surveyed agree that manufacturers are releasing too many new models, many designed to only last a few years. In fact, most users actually want their phones to be more easily dismantled, repaired and recycled.”

Mobile phones are some of the most frequently replaced of all small electronics products.

A United Nations University report in 2014 showed that up to 3 million metric tonnes of e-waste is generated from small IT products, such as mobile phones and personal computers. This represents a massive waste of resources and a source of contamination from hazardous chemicals.

Key findings from the survey:

  • Chinese (66 percent) and South Korean respondents (64 percent) are more likely to have ever had their phones repaired, compared to those in the US (28 percent) and Germany (23 percent).

  • Nearly half surveyed believe that mobile phone manufacturers should be most responsible for making recycling accessible. This sentiment was strongest in Germany (61 percent).

  • Except in Germany (86 percent), over 90 percent of respondents surveyed in all countries said that “designed to last” is an important feature of a new smartphone.

  • Four in five respondents consider it important that a new smartphone is not produced using hazardous chemicals.

  • Four in five respondents believe it is important for a new smartphone to be easily repaired if damaged.This rises to as high as 95 percent in China, 94 percent in Mexico and 92 percent in South Korea.

  • Apart from respondents in South Korea, the most common reason for replacing their last phone was the desire for a more up-to-date device.

“We believe true innovation means gadgets designed to last, to be repaired and recycled. It is time for tech leaders to rethink the way they make our electronics so that they are as innovative for our planet as they are for our lives,” said Lee.

“If tech brands want to lead us into the future, they need to move towards closed-loop production and embrace the circular economy; something that can be good for their profits, for people and for the planet.”

Greenpeace East Asia conducted the survey as part of its True Innovation campaign, which challenges the technology sector to embrace innovation to protect our environment and our future.

Out with the old…iPhones? 4 ways to reuse, resell, recycle

Each year, Apple dazzles its devoted fans with faster, sleeker, more powerful iPhones with better cameras and a bevy of bells and whistles.

So, what’s to become of last year’s model?

Instead of sentencing it to a lonely existence in a desk drawer, there are plenty of ways to reuse, recycle or resell older phones. Here are a few:

• DONATE TO CHARITY

Several charities accept old phones for donation, though it’s worth remembering that these groups probably won’t physically give your old phones to people in need. Rather, they work with phone recyclers and sell your donated phones to them.

A nonprofit group called Cell Phones for Soldiers will take your “gently used” phone and sell it to a recycling company. It will then use the proceeds to buy international calling cards for soldiers so they can talk to their loved ones back home.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence works in a similar manner. About 60 percent of the phones it collects are refurbished and resold. The money goes toward supporting the coalition. The remaining 40 percent of the phones are recycled, according to the group’s website. It pays for shipping if you are mailing three or more phones. The group also accepts other electronics such as laptops, video game systems and digital cameras.

• $ELL FOR $OME CA$H

You can always join the eBay hordes and sell your phone on the site for a few hundred bucks, if you are lucky. There will likely be a flood of the gadgets soon after people start getting their new phones, so it might make sense to wait a little.

There are also plenty of other options.  A company called Gazelle will make an offer for your old phone based on its condition, your phone carrier and other information. For example, a 64 gigabyte iPhone 6 on AT&T in good condition (no cracks, major scratches or scuffs, turns on and makes calls), would get you $305 this week. The same phone on Sprint, meanwhile, would rake in $220.

Glyde.com also offers to help you resell your old phone. A recent check showed the same iPhone, with charger included, getting you $376.10 — provided there is a buyer.

• TRADE IN FOR SOMETHING ELSE

Apple will give you store credit for old devices that you can then use for new gadgets. You can do this in a retail store or online, where you’ll get an estimate before mailing in your phone. An online check for the phone above yielded an estimated $325 Apple Store gift card this week.

The video game retailer GameStop, meanwhile, offers cash or store credit for old iPhones (along with iPods and iPads).

• REUSE, REPURPOSE

Even without cellular service, you old phone will be able to get on Wi-Fi, so you can use it to stream music, post on Facebook or do pretty much anything else you want provided you are in Wi-Fi range. Keep it for yourself, or load it up with kid-friendly apps and games and hand it down to your children.

Plastic bag manufacturers push to overturn California ban

Plastic bag manufacturers on Oct. 10 passed their first hurdle in their effort to delay and eventually repeal California’s new ban on single-use plastic shopping bags before it takes effect.

The office of Attorney General Kamala Harris cleared the way for the groups to begin collecting signatures for a referendum vote on the ban on the November 2016 ballot.

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the first statewide ban on plastic bags, citing a “torrent” of plastic pollution in parks and waterways. It followed one of the fiercest legislative battles of the year, pitting bag makers against environmentalists.

If opponents of the law submit more than 500,000 signatures by January, the ban would not take effect until voters weigh in.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers says voters will be on their side when they learn the law, SB270, authorizes a 10-cent fee for paper bags that are now often provided for free.

“If this law were allowed to go into effect it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment, and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets,” Lee Califf, executive director of the American Plastic Bag Alliance, said in a news release.

Under the statewide ban, large grocery stores must stop carrying single-use bags by July 2015. Pharmacies, liquor stores and convenience stores must comply the next year.

Manufacturers’ fight against the legislation comes as plastic bag bans have been gaining momentum across the country, including in the cities of Chicago, Seattle and Austin. In California, more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, already ban plastic shopping bags at checkout counters.

An environmental group that supports the ban has vowed to fight the referendum.

“We are confident that Californians will repeat history by rejecting an effort by an out-of-state, special interest polluter funded misinformation campaign to overturn a popular law,” Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said in a news release.

Records show the American Plastic Bag Alliance has spent at least $140,000 lobbying the California Legislature and the governor’s office in the first six months of the year.

California is 1st state to ban plastic bags

Gov. Jerry Brown has signed the nation’s first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags at grocery and convenience stores, driven to action by pollution in streets and waterways.

A national coalition of plastic bag manufacturers immediately said it would seek a voter referendum to repeal the law, which is scheduled to take effect in July 2015.

Under SB270, plastic bags will be phased out of checkout counters at large grocery stores and supermarkets such as Wal-Mart and Target starting next summer, and convenience stores and pharmacies in 2016. The law does not apply to bags used for fruits, vegetables or meats, or to shopping bags used at other retailers. It allows grocers to charge a fee of at least 10 cents for using paper bags.

State Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, credits the momentum for statewide legislation to the more than 100 cities and counties, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, that already have such bans.

The law marks a major milestone for environmental activists who have successfully pushed plastic bag bans in cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Austin and Seattle. Hawaii is also on track to have a de-facto statewide ban, with all counties approving prohibitions.

“This bill is a step in the right direction – it reduces the torrent of plastic polluting our beaches, parks and even the vast ocean itself,” Brown said in a signing statement. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last.”

Plastic bag manufacturers have aggressively pushed back through their trade group, the American Progressive Bag Alliance, which aired commercials in California blasting the ban as a cash-giveaway to grocers that would lead to a loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

“If this law were allowed to go into effect, it would jeopardize thousands of California manufacturing jobs, hurt the environment and fleece consumers for billions so grocery store shareholders and their union partners can line their pockets,” Lee Califf, executive director of the manufacturer trade group, said in a statement.

Padilla, the bill’s author, said Californians would reject a referendum effort and quickly adapt their behavior to help the environment.

“For those folks concerned about the 10 cent fee that may be charged for paper, the simple elegant solution is to bring a reusable bag to the store,” Padilla said.

Shoppers leaving a Ralphs supermarket Tuesday in downtown San Diego were divided as they weighed the legislation’s environmental benefits against its costs. San Diego does not ban plastic bags.

“With the amount of waste that we produce, we can try to help out by slightly inconveniencing ourselves,” said Megan Schenfeld, 29, whose arms were full of groceries in plastic bags after leaving reusable bags at home.

Robert Troxell, a 69-year-old former newspaper editor, said the fees are more than an inconvenience for retirees living on fixed incomes like him. He shops daily because he has only a small refrigerator in his hotel for low-income seniors.

“It becomes a flat tax on senior citizens,” said Troxell, who lives off social security and other government assistance. “I have not disagreed with Jerry Brown on anything – until this.”

The American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group representing paper bag makers, says the bill unfairly penalizes consumers who use their commonly recycled products, while holding reusable plastic bags to a lower standard for recyclable content.

Responding to the concerns about job losses, the bill includes $2 million in loans for plastic bag manufacturers to shift their operations to make reusable bags. That provision won the support of Los Angeles Democratic Sens. Kevin De Leon and Ricardo Lara, who had blocked earlier versions of the legislation.

Lawmakers of both parties who opposed SB270 said it would penalize lower-income residents by charging them for bags they once received for free. The bill was amended to waive fees for customers who are on public assistance and limit how grocers can spend the proceeds from the fees.

Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico also have pending legislation that would ban single-use bags, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Easy ways to help the planet

Here are some practical ways to observe Earth Day throughout the year.

Turn off electronic devices you are not using and unplug them. Clean and replace the filters on your furnace and air conditioner regularly. Those actions will reduce carbon emissions and your monthly energy bill.

Recycle as many household wastes as possible. Call your local department of public works or your private waste disposal company to learn what they accept. Encourage them and your legislators to expand recycling programs.

Recycle all electronic devices and hazardous wastes properly. TVs, computers, cell phones, etc., contain chemicals harmful to the environment. Contact your public works department or log on to http://cleansweep.wi.gov. This site includes dates and locations of special collections for household, pharmaceutical and other hazardous wastes.

Use alternative forms of transportation whenever possible — biking, car-pooling or public transportation. The Department of Transportation is now seeking public comment on the future of state transportation funding. Post your comments on the WisDOT website or speak out at hearings in Green Bay (May 7), Oshkosh (May 8), West Allis (May 20) or Kenosha (May 21). Google “Transportation Moves Wisconsin” for details.

Have your utility conduct a home energy audit. The results will give you practical ways to bolster insulation and become more energy efficient. Ask your utility about (and urge it to move toward) clean energy options.

Get a solar energy assessment for your home. The technology has become more affordable, with rebates, tax credits and financing available. Solar power cuts your energy costs considerably and does not despoil the planet like gas, coal and nuclear power. The Sierra Club works with H&H Solar Energy Services out of Madison, an experienced, reputable company.

Get politically active and vote. Wisconsin’s 2013–14 legislative session just ended and Mother Earth took more hits from the GOP-controlled Senate and Assembly. The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters will post its biennial scorecard on its website this summer, just in time for voters to see their representatives’ records and to make decisions for the fall elections. Look for the scorecard at: http://conservationvoters.org.

The League has endorsed Democrat Mary Burke for governor over Scott Walker. Its members believe Burke is far more environmentally conscious and will work for renewable, locally-generated energy initiatives; the expansion of organic farming; new technologies for safer handling of livestock waste and wastewater; stricter regulation of sand and open pit mining; and the creation of more clean energy jobs.

Get involved with the League, Clean Wisconsin or the Sierra Club. The websites of each have information about current environmental issues, from mining and industrial farming to water pollution, energy efficiency, nuclear power, and plant and wildlife preservation. All these groups allow you to sign up for alerts, which keep you updated on issues and provide avenues for action.

The Sierra Club has a statewide chapter and a dozen local chapters you can connect with. Visit http://wisconsin.sierraclub.org/about. Sierra Clubs are committed to “explore, enjoy and protect the wild places on earth.” While serving as watchdogs over the environment, they sponsor hiking, canoeing, camping and other adventures that enhance your appreciation for the outdoors and enable you to connect with other nature lovers.

Being an environmentalist isn’t just a long list of “shoulds.” It offers solidarity with other committed people and the satisfaction of knowing you are doing what you can to respect and nurture a livable planet. Get involved today!

Growing the green movement: Earth Day activities, actions, associations

Earth Day, the eco-holiday celebrated around the world on April 22, was pioneered by a U.S. senator from Wisconsin — Democrat Gaylord Nelson.

Nelson, who died in 2005, had wanted to turn attention in the United States to the environment. And so, he pushed for an annual observance to encourage the people on the planet to protect species and spaces by recycling, reusing and, perhaps most importantly, reducing.

In 1970, when the first Earth Day took place, Americans burned leaded gas in massive V8 engines. Factories belched smoke and sludge. Air pollution signaled prosperity. But, with the work of politicians such as Nelson, scientists such as Rachel Carson and a growing network of activists, there was an emerging consciousness about caring for the environment.

Nelson, looking back, would one day say that Earth Day organized itself. An estimated 20 million people participated in that first Earth Day.

This year, at least a billion people are expected to get involved in events and activities planned at local, national and international levels.

A march and rally are set for the weekend after Earth Day, with thousands expected to gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Beyond the beltway in the U.S., organizations were scheduling rallies, marches, lectures, community cleanups, recycling drives, environmental fairs, repurposed art shows and documentary screenings.

The Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profits is a national campaign that unites social, economic and environmental justice movements for coordinated actions and education — from Earth Day to May Day and beyond. The convergence has coalitions working in more than 40 U.S. cities, including Madison.

Related events include:

• On April 17, at 6 p.m., At the River I Stand, Goodman Public Library, 2222 S. Park St., Madison, screening and discussion of the documentary about the two months before Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and King’s role in labor struggles. Information: 608-262-2112.

•  On April 19, from 2 p.m.-1 a.m., Mind Your Mother: Celebrate Earth Day! Mining Alternatives Teach-In, Fundraiser & Live Music Bash, at the Evolution Arts Collective Warehouse Space, 202 South Dickinson St., Madison. There will be anti-mining workshops, a potluck dinner, storytelling, music, door prizes and an auction. Proceeds will benefit the Bad River Legal Defense Fund and Anti-Frac Sand Mining Efforts. 

• On April 21, at noon, Peace Vigil: Environmental Impacts of War, the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Doty Street in front of the post office in Madison. The Madison Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom will feature information about the Environmental Impacts of War.

• April 21, 7 p.m., Water Is Life! Puppet Show and Thistle and Thorns, UW-Madison Memorial Union, evening of folk art and education about frac sands and iron mining in northern Wisconsin hosted by the Madison Infoshop and Madison Action for Mining Alternatives. Information: 608-262-9036.

• On April 22, at 5:30 p.m., the Earth Day March and Rally—Protect our Water – Reject the Mines and Pipelines!, departing from Monona Terrace in Madison. Plans include a march from Monona Terrace to the library mall, a 6:15 p.m. rally at the mall with speakers from 350 Madison, the Madison Action for Mining Alternatives and NoKXL Pledge of Resistance. Also: Call for Peace Drum and Dance Company.

• On April 22, 7 p.m., Rock Bottom in the Age of Extreme Resource Extraction, UW-Madison Memorial Union, Beehive Arts and Design Collective performance about fracking, mining and tar sands.

• On April 23, 7 p.m., Economic Democracy panel discussion, Madison Central Library, 201 W. Mifflin St., involving Dane County TimeBank, Wisconsin Wave and others.

• On April 24, noon, Fossil Free UW Banner Drop, UW campuses around the state, with Fossil Free UW dropping banners calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies. 

• On April 24, 5 p.m., The People’s Speakout at Veterans Plaza/30 on the Square in Madison. There will be speeches, live music, spoken word. The event is being hosted by the IWW Social Action and Solidarity Committee. For more information, call 442-8399 or 815-685-8567.

• On April 24, 7 p.m., a screening of Bidder 70, at 122 State St., Room 200, Madison. The film is about climate justice activist Tim DeChristopher, who served two years in federal prison for taking direct action in 2008 at a BLM auction to stop oil and gas drilling on thousands of acres of public land in Utah. 

• On April 26, the March and Rally for People, Peace and Planet Over Profit, noon, library mall in Madison. The Global Climate Convergence coalition marches through Madison to the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, where there will be a rally.

• On March 26, the Sustainable Saturday Night! Family-friendly Potluck, Sustainability Tribute to Pete Seeger, 6 p.m., James Reeb Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 2146 E. Johnson St., Madison. There will be a community potluck dinner and a sing-along celebrating singer.

• On April 27, from 1-5 p.m., Earth Day for Peace and Justice, Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability, 2299 Spring Rose Road, west of Verona.

• On April 28, 11 a.m., at the state Capitol, Workers’ Memorial Day, an annual event to remember those who lost their lives on the job. 

• On May 1, 3:30 p.m., Brittingham Park in Madison, May Day International Workers Day March and Rally. There will be a march and rally for immigration justice, workers’ rights and a living wage for all. Demonstrators will gather at the park and march to the state Capitol. 

• On May 1, 6 p.m., May Day Celebration, Wil-Mar Center, 953 Jenifer St., Madison. An evening of food, music and speakers.

• On May 3, noon, civil disobedience training for Keystone XL pipeline protests. 

• On May 3, 9 p.m., May Day celebration, Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, 600 Williamson St., Madison. There will be a Mideast by Midwest performance and celebration of workers’ rights.

Other Earth Day events…

• On April 12, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the Wisconsin Green Party holds its spring gathering at the Ambrosia Cooperative, 225 E. Lakelawn Place, Madison. The Global Climate Convergence will participate. And Green Party candidates will talk about their issues. For more, go the Wisconsin Green Party. 

• On April 19, from about 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at John Muir Memorial Park in Montello, there will be a celebration of Muir’s birthday and the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Organizers include the Sierra Club, the Wisconsin Friends of John Muir, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Marquette County Healthy Communities.

• On April 19, the city of Madison sponsors the Earth Day Challenge, with cleanups planned at many parks. For more, call Anne Whisner at the city of Madison at 608-267-4919 or email

• On April 19, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks sponsors a Work Play Earth Day campaign, with activities at many state parks. Volunteers will plant trees and shrubs, install benches, remove invasive plants, stain picnic tables and help with other improvements. Activities also will take place on April 26 and May 3.

• On April 19, the Race Against Extinction fundraiser gets run in Madison to draw attention to environmental issues and bring people outdoors. Runners begin at Vilas Park. Registration is at theraceagainstextinction.org.

• On April 22, the Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference — Earth: To Be Determined — takes place at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center in Madison. Registration is underway. Actress and activist Rosario Dawson, sci-fi author China Nieville and ecologists Erle Ellis and Kevin Noon will be featured.

• On April 22, Milwaukee’s Office of Sustainability and Rock the Green hold the third annual Earth Day Celebration with an appearance by Mayor Tom Barrett, a performance by Vic and Gab and a caravan of food trucks. The event takes place 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the City Center, 735 N. Water St., Milwaukee. For more, email

• On April 26, the Milwau Environmental Consortium holds an Earth Day project at Washington Park, 1859 N. 40th St., Milwaukee. Hours are 8 a.m.-1 p.m. The Student Conservation Association at the Urban Ecology Center at Washington Park will complete service projects. For more, email August Ball at or call 414-322-8482.

Read about Gaylord Nelson and the history of Earth Day — and progressive politics in Wisconsin — here.

Have an Earth Day activity or campaign to share? Email . We also welcome announcements of ongoing environmental activities.

Massachusetts to institute commercial food waste ban

Massachusetts has issued final regulations on a statewide commercial food waste ban. The regulations unveiled last week are set to take effect in October and intended to divert leftover food and reduce the state’s waste stream.

The ban, which will be regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, requires businesses that dispose of at least one ton of organic material per week donate or “re-purpose” any useable food.

Any remaining food waste will have to be shipped to an anaerobic digestion facility, where it will be converted to clean energy, or sent to composting and animal-feed operations.

Residential food materials and food waste from small businesses are not included in the ban.

Officials say the disposal ban affects about 1,700 institutions statewide, including supermarkets, colleges, universities, hotels, convention centers, hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and food service and processing companies.

Some restaurants have expressed concerns about increased costs, as well as the risk of attracting rodents by storing waste food.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan said the ban “is critical to achieving our aggressive waste disposal reduction goals and it is in line with our commitment to increase clean energy production.”

Food and other organic material make up 25 percent of the state’s waste stream. The Patrick administration has set a goal of reducing that waste stream by 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

The administration said 300 supermarkets already have food waste separation programs that save each store up to $20,000 per year.