How Recycling E-Waste Avoids $1 Billion in Cost to Sprint

Posted on July 16, 2012 · Posted in PK Metals Blog

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Chad Lander, Sprint’s Director of Cell Phone recycling, knows firsthand the impact that Sustainability programs have on the bottom line of a business. Sprint’s phone recycling programs have helped the company avoid over $1 billion in cost.

“I have to give a lot of credit to our CEO Dan Hesse,” said Lander. “His passion for sustainability has permeated the company, and allows for creative solutions that are good for business and good for the environment.” Just last July Hesse joined Michael Dell and Senior Executives from Sony as founding members of the Obama Administration’s “National Strategy for Electronics Stewardship” – a strategy for the responsible electronic design, purchasing, management and recycling.

Here at PK Metals, we take pride in our commitment to sustainability. We have over 80 employees spread over 20 acres working to recycle electronics, metal, and plastic. We reached out to Sprint because they were ranked #3 last year on Newsweek’s Green Ranking, and are a recognized leader in the e-waste industry. PK Metals is R2/RIOS certified to handle electronics, and we appreciate Sprint’s commitment to recycle e-waste.

Sprint’s product sustainability efforts focus on three areas: design, maximizing useful life, and recycling responsibly. From a design perspective, Sprint’s Environmental Stewardship Policy ensures that at least 70% of Sprint-branded devices launched annually will meet their environmental scorecard criteria by 2017. Sprint focuses on the entire phone lifecycle; ensuring new products and refurbished devices are high quality.

Lander indicated Sprint has improved both to best ever levels. One interesting element of maximizing useful life that is gaining additional attention for the company is Sprint’s highly rated Buyback Program. “Customers love our Buyback Program,” said Lander. “Sprint will take phones from any carrier, and our customers can receive an instant cash incentive that can be applied to purchasing a new phone or accessory. Our buyback program has paid out over $50 million to our customers so far this year – that’s great for our customers, great for the environment and good for Sprint. In addition, another way we extend the useful life of our phones is most all of our retail locations are equipped to handle repairs on site. Our customers love this and it’s a great sustainability element as well. ”

Currently, nearly 90% of the phones Sprint collects are reused in some capacity. Incidentally, Sprint is looking to get back 9 out of every 10 phones it sells by 2017. Sprint is also targeting to collect 100% of its e-waste by 2017. “Sprint also recently earned the top spot across all US carriers for their Buyback program by Compass Intelligence. (You can see latest release on this on

As the conversation turned to the positive impact sustainability programs will have on future generations, we asked Mr. Lander some questions about his career, and advice he has for the next generation of business leaders.

When asked for three books that he would recommend, Lander mentioned: Good to Great, One Minute Manager, and the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. If he could invite any five people to dinner, he would pick: George Washington, Jesus Christ, David Packard, Dwight E. Eisenhower, and Steve Jobs. Finally, we asked Mr. Lander for the best piece of advice he has ever received: “If you are going to do something, do it right.”

Considering e-waste avoids $1 Billion in cost to Sprint, it sure looks like Sprint is doing something right when it comes to executing sustainable business practices.

For more information about e-Green Recycling Management, head over to