Greenpeace says Sony's recycling exercise is no more than marketing

Greenpeace has described a computer recycling scheme by Sony as a “possible marketing exercise.”

The environmental organisation has said that the scheme, which encourages people to take in their old electrical items whether or not they are working “looks more like a marketing initiative rather than a recycling effort.”

Sony’s scheme was started in August last year. At the time the company encouraged consumers to trade in their old analogue televisions and receive up to £150 off a new Sony Bravia.

And today it announced an extension to the initiative, encouraging consumers to trade in a number of different electrical items, ranging from Cybershot digital cameras and Handycams camcorders to Walkmans, Blu-ray players and even headphones and Bravia TVs, and get between £5 and £150 off new Sony devices.

Sony said it believed Brits would be looking to upgrade their electrical equipment in time for the Fifa World Cup, which takes place in June this year.

However Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace’s International toxics campaigner was sceptical. She told TechEye the scheme could encourage people to part with their perfectly working electronics for newer items and was a good way for Sony to make a profit on bigger items.

“In Europe we already have the WEE Directive, which is a piece of legislation for recycling,” she said.

“I’d understand if this was an initiative in Africa where this legislation doesn’t exist but it looks that this is a marketing exercise for the company.”

The organisation also pointed out that older CRT TVs had a longer shelf life at 25 years than new plasmas, which last for around 10 years meaning in theory Sony was reducing the shelf life of these.

“If we’re assuming these televisions are still functioning, Sony is in fact driving consumption” Iza said.

We put these concerns to Sony and also asked it what it did with the old products. At the time of going to press we had not heard back.

Update: Sony has given us comment. It lamely replied: “Regarding the comment that ‘if we’re assuming the television are in working order’…consumers can trade in consumer electronics whether they are in a working condition or not. The old products are the responsibility of each individual retailer  – the campaign as a whole is a good way to encourage the responsible disposal of old technology”.