Recycle e-waste for bonus karma points & a better future

Recycle e-waste for bonus karma points & a better future

By SANSHEY BISWAS | | 26 September, 2015
The Karma Recycling posters.
Moore’s Law, as per Wikipedia, is “the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.” The implications of this observation don’t just affect the computational power at our disposal, but also the waste we dispose. Newer hardware becomes obsolete in no time, with yearly boosts in features, specs and desirability. That leaves us with a pile of workable gadgets that have no utility for their owner. Quickr and OLX have made a dent in the sphere of resell and reuse, even if reducing e-waste wasn’t their prime motive. But what about the devices that are damaged and have value in parts but not as a whole? There are ways to free up the space these gadgets occupy in your closet without ever being put to any actual use. That too,  without adding to the growing landfill that your garbage eventually ends up as. 
Leading the battle against e-waste are the titans of the tech industry — Apple, Samsung, Dell and Phillips among others. Most manufacturers have a recycling programme in place that just requires you to drop off the device at a collection centre; some will even pick it up from your doorstep. The redundant device is then  put through systematic procedures to safely dispose of it. Although their sales are currently declining, Samsung has traditionally been a force to reckon in the tech world. The manufacturer has sold a lot of devices, which means that a large number of Samsung phones, TVs and  refrigerators would be on their way to the graveyard now. That’s why Samsung’s “green cremation” of gadgets becomes a necessity. They provide drop-off locations for users to send portable devices including phones, cameras and even DVDs. For larger devices such as computers, monitors, TVs and home appliances, Samsung lets you sign them up for a pickup once they reach the end of their lives. All these activities function under a programme called STAR (Samsung Take Back & Recycling) which has contracts with professional recycling companies that get the job done the right way. 

Customers can visit the Karma Recycling site and get an immediate quote about the gadget you want to dispose of. They’ll fix a time for the pick up, inspect the device, pay you, and then recycle the gadget responsibly. 

Apple’s efforts to keep the environment clean have also been prominent, with 87% of their global operations running on renewable energy. It’s no surprise that they have a system in place for managing e-waste. It’s as simple as getting in touch with them. For no extra charge, they’ll pick up the device from your doorstep and recycle it responsibly. While these companies only take responsibility for products they have manufactured, Dell, on the other hand, helps its customers by even recycling non-Dell products and toner cartridges. Just pack your old computer up after wiping all your data from it, and schedule a convenient pickup. 
If all your electronics have been manufactured by the same company, sending them back to the company for recycling once they’ve run their course makes sense, since the pickup and logistics are taken care of without an additional charge. But for smaller quantities — say, a usable phone with just a broken screen — selling it on an e-commerce site can be tedious, and just recycling it would be a waste of an otherwise functional phone. 
Karma Recycling, started in 2013, has already bought 1.6 lakh devices. The company doesn’t make devices; it concentrates mostly on the recycling part. Customers can visit the website (, fill in details about the gadget they want to send to a better place, and the website immediately provides a quote. Karma then calls you, fixes a pickup time, inspects the device and pays you accordingly. You can get paid for your contribution by a cheque, fund transfer or gift cards (from or Unlike companies where wiping the data from the device is your responsibility, Karma Recycling makes sure that none of your data remains on the device, irrespective of its future fate, be it in the hands of another customer or the recycling experts. As they keep building their collection of used gadgets, an electronics portal from the company, established on a broader scale, is preaching recyling with more aggression — 
If you’ve noticed classic Bollywood posters depicting popular scenes, mutilated by dumps of garbage under the feet of the actors pictured,  on walls near dumpsters in South Delhi, it’s likely that you’ve spotted an image that’s part of Delhi I Love You (DILY), a recycling campaign by Karma Recycling. Together with artist Shaily Gupta, they have put up these posters at over 50 garbage disposal sites in the city to draw attention to the massive amounts of waste we’re producing on a daily basis. This venture broadens the company’s recycling efforts from gadgets to everything a regular household might need to get rid of. Paper, plastic, washing machines, furniture — the homepage displays a growing list of recyclers, their location, contact details and expertise. If you’re ready to put in that effort to get your “garbage” across to them, and get others around you to do it too, the initial burden could soon become a norm and improve the situation greatly. 

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