Best Buy Sustainability Report: Collecting 1B Pounds of E-Waste

by | Jul 7, 2010

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Best Buy plans to collect 1 billion pounds of used consumer electronics, or e-waste, over the next five years, according to the company’s 2010 Sustainability Report. The company reported collecting 74 million pounds of e-waste and 66 million pounds of used appliances for recycling in its U.S. stores last year.

The company recently joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Responsible Appliance Disposal (RAD) Program to help drive the responsible disposal and recycling of household appliances. It has also provided incentives to customers to increase recycling rates.

The company noted that its corporate campus in Minnesota won the 2009 Recycler of the

Year Award from the Recycling Association of Minnesota in recognition of the recycling and composting program it created for its restrooms and cafeteria. Best Buy reported composting 107 tons of waste last year, down from 108 tons the year before.

The company also said that energy intensity has decreased in recent years. It reported carbon equivalent emissions of 51.6 pounds per square foot last year, a 14.8 percent reduction from its 2005 baseline, according to the company. In total, the company said it had reduced carbon emissions by 162,155 metric tonnes below its 2005 baseline. Its original goal was an 8 percent reduction in carbon intensity per square foot by 2012. The company is projecting savings of 203,004 metric tonnes of emissions next year.

Best Buy increased its use of virtual servers, allowing the number of physical servers it uses to remain almost flat despite an increase in stores and locations. The company is also working with Xcel Energy to test the effects of increasing the temperature of its data rooms in order to further reduce energy use. Best Buy said it also plans to invest in a centralized, ultrasonic humidification system, which it said with both save energy and provide a return on investment within a year.

It also cited savings driven by its partnership with the government-run Energy Star program, which Best Buy said helped its customers save $91 billion in utility bills and 796 kWhs last year.

Best Buy saw improvements among its supply chain partners. The company audits its Exclusive Brand Suppliers – those companies that supply its proprietary brands – and reported a 9 percent non-compliance rate among its suppliers in the category of environmental issues, down from an 18 percent non-compliance rate last year.

The company began moving away from clear plastic blister pack containers and clamshell packages and toward recyclable containers in 2009, which it said resulted in reductions of 125 tons of PVC and other plastics. It said it is also evaluating ways to reduce PVC use in cables and other products.

To reduce the impact of its transportation operations, the company said it has partnered with the SmartWay program run by the EPA to help increase efficiency among shippers. The company said it reached its goal of having all of its long haul carriers in the SmartWay program. The company said it was also able to use the program to reduce the total number of miles traveled with an empty truck, and was honored by the EPA for excellence in that area. Best Buy is also testing the use of electric fleet vehicles and moving toward smaller, more efficient trucks.

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