Promoting the E-Waste Pile

Promoting the E-Waste Pile

Using competition and social media to boost commercial e-waste recycling.

Editor’s Note: In the following article, Heather Palmer, marketing and social media manager for the recycling firm eco International, describes a competition her firm recently conducted to boost commercial e-waste recycling in New York. It is provided as a model that other waste firms and recyclers may find instructive.

Many businesses in New York state are unsure about the options for disposing of electronic waste. On April 1, 2011, the first part of a three-phase New York state landfill ban took effect, prohibiting the disposal of televisions, monitors, computers, laptops, printers, keyboards and mice. Concerned with data security and fearful of running afoul of environmental regulations, some companies have been reduced to stockpiling outdated equipment in closets and basements.

In an effort to educate New York businesses, boost commercial e-waste recycling and help ensure compliance with the latest e-waste regulations, recycling firm eco International proposed a competition. The “Greenest NY Business Competition” invited firms to bring their e-waste to eco International for free, responsible recycling. The business that recycled the most between April 4 and June 3 was rewarded with $100 in gift cards to local retailers and restaurants.

The competition was publicized and facilitated using the company’s website and its Facebook and Twitter accounts. Using these platforms, eco International informed New York businesses about the hazards of landfilling e-waste, including mercury and lead contamination of soil and drinking water. To address fears about secure data handling, it conducted tours of the recycling facility and the data destruction process.

Businesses were encouraged to bring their outdated or unwanted electronics to eco International’s headquarters in Vestal, N.Y. For large loads, the company provided transportation and packaging.

The goals of the competition were to:
• Promote the importance of recycling in general.
• Encourage businesses to expand their current recycling practices.
• Recognize and reward businesses for their recycling efforts.

In addition to gift cards, participating businesses also received free publicity. Standings were updated weekly on eco International’s Facebook page. A weekly tweet identified the business atop the leader board.

Tech Team, of Vestal, won the competition, with 10,243 pounds of e-waste recycled. All told, 11 companies recycled more than 34,000 pounds of e-waste. Results were posted on, along with additional details on responsible electronics recycling, asset management and logistics.

Heather Palmer is the marketing and social media manager at eco International in Vestal, N.Y. She manages the community education and outreach program for responsible e-waste recycling.

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