Faith Leaders Tell Walmart to Match Competitors Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot’s E-Waste Policies

by | Jun 4, 2012

Environmental activists and local clergy from all 50 states have called on Walmart to change its e-waste recycling policies.

The “Open Letter to Walmart on Stewardship of Electronic Waste,” signed by more than 100 priests, pastors, rabbis, lay leaders, faith-based activists and theologians, asks the retail giant to match its competitors’ e-waste recycling programs, back a national policy that would ban exporting e-waste to developing nations, and work with its suppliers to design “greener” electronic products.

Walmart competitors Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot all offer free takeback for electronic products.

The timing of the letter coincides with Walmart’s annual shareholders meeting.

Over past 11 months, Texas Campaign for the Environment activists have sent more than 30,000 letters to Walmart officials. The group says Andrea Thomas, Walmart senior VP for sustainability, told its members in April that the company has “an internal cross functional team that is actively engaged on the issue,” but no commitments have been made to date.

Prominent signers of the statement include Cornel West, lay Baptist and Princeton University professor, Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, Canon for the Environment from the Episcopal Diocese of California, Fazlun Khalid, founding director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences in the United Kingdom and Rev. Leslie Smith Belden of the Presbytery of Arkansas.

Recycling e-waste is a growing concern among Americans of all stripes, according to a new survey commissioned by Call2Recycle, a free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America.

The survey says 29 percent of Americans admit to suffering from “green guilt,” meaning they know they could and show do more to preserve the environment. This more than doubles the percentage (12 percent) who said they felt green guilt in 2009.

Additionally, more than half of Americans (57 percent) say they have old electronics that they need to dispose of or discard, including cell phones (46 percent), computers (33 percent) and TVs (25 percent), followed by cordless phones (19 percent) and rechargeable batteries (17 percent), Call2Recycle reports.

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