Educating Consumers on End-of-Life Product Value

Concerted efforts are being made by environmentalist and government regulations for consumers to return their old or damaged items to the store of origin, or to outside outlets for them to be handled in an environmentally friendly way. Many stores encourage their customers to bring their old, unused electronic items, such as cell phones, computers, monitors, televisions, etc. back to their store. Some even offer discount coupons for new merchandise.

What happens to these end-of-life (EOL) products?

Often items that have been returned still have some life left in them – although you may find the life as it exist now may no longer be viable. This means the item may possibly be repaired, refurbished or remanufactured and then able to be resold, or it can stripped of minerals and hardware inside to be used in other products. Extending the life of an item involves different options, but will all add value to your company’s bottom line.

Some stores have an agreement with the manufacturer, or an outsourced resource recovery business, to handle all of these EOL items. Some have in-house resources in place to take care of this process.

After the product is distributed to its temporary home it is triaged, where it is evaluated as to the best course of action to take in order to get the best use of the product. It will be researched as to whether it is best to repair it, refurbish it, or if it is possible to bring it back to manufacturers specifications. If none of these options are workable, the product is then taken disassembled and all parts are cleaned and evaluated for workability.

Working or repairable parts will be set aside for use in other products.  All minerals will be salvaged, where they will be melted down for reuse.

Each of these areas will bring renewed life for the product, and profit for the business. In the past items that were returned were often simply thrown away. By changing your returns process your business will make money by the product being returned to the shelf, even at a discounted price, or by reselling to another outlet.

An essential part of this equation is to motivate consumers to bring the items back to be recycled. “The ultimate goal is to create a cyclical manufacturing system that is sustainable but also profitable,” says a Virginia Tech research team analyzing the value of product recovery on business and the environment.1

In addition, consumers need to be educated on the environmental impacts of recycling their old, unused or damaged electronics. In this economy consumers should also be educated on the financial benefits of purchasing products that have been refurbished. Everyone is seeking ways to save a dollar – businesses and consumers alike. By processing and purchasing recycled products businesses and consumers alike will save money, and the planet.


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