Is Best Buy’s home pickup recycling service worth the price?

Discussion
Photo: Best Buy
Jun 01, 2022

Best Buy recently became the first national retailer to offer a service that picks up old tech from customers’ homes to be recycled. The price of the service, at $199, however, may come with some sticker shock.

To be fair, items hauled away under the Best Buy Standalone Haul-Away service include major appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators that a household would likely pay someone to take off their hands.

For $199 (20 percent off for Best Buy Totaltech members), Best Buy’s Standalone Haul-Away service removes and recycles up to two large products (including TVs, major appliances, all-in-one computers and monitors), along with select smaller products, like laptops, cameras, cords and gaming consoles.

The bigger value to the program may be Best Buy’s guarantee that items will be “responsibly and safely recycled,” avoiding landfills and potentially giving the item a second life.

A United Nations study reported that 53.6 million tons of e-waste was discarded in 2019, and only 17.4 percent of it was disposed of properly. Electronics can contain toxic substances such as lead, mercury and cadmium that can harm the environment if it winds up in a landfill. Some items also need to be wiped of personal data.

“We feel we have an important role to play in helping our planet, including being there for the entire lifecycle of a product — from the time a customer starts shopping until that product is responsibly recycled,” said Tim Dunn, Best Buy’s head of environmental sustainability, in a statement. “This new service will make this important work even more convenient for customers.”

At the store level, Best Buy accepts a number of smaller electronics for recycling for free and charges $39.99 to accept many larger ones, including TVs and monitors. It charges $39.99 to haul away major appliances from homes when a replacement product is delivered. A trade-in program offers gift cards for items that still have value.

Best Buy said it is the nation’s largest retail collector of e-waste, having helped customers recycle two billion pounds of electronics since it started its recycling program in 2009. Only a few other retailers, including Apple, Staples and Amazon, offer e-waste recycling.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Best Buy’s Standalone Haul-Away service, at $199, hold enough appeal to consumers? Should retailers or manufacturers be playing a larger role in reducing e-waste?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I love to see a company following through on sustainability efforts in a meaningful way. "
"...they might want to trial several price points, say $79, $99, $139, $199 and determine which one is more optimal for the long term."
"If Best Buy really wants to help the planet let them do what DTE Energy does for me – pay me to take old, inefficient appliances away."

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15 Comments on "Is Best Buy’s home pickup recycling service worth the price?"


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DeAnn Campbell
BrainTrust

I love to see a company following through on sustainability efforts in a meaningful way. Yes the price seems high on its own, but when you factor in the cost of labor and gas to haul these large and heavy items to a recycle center that is probably quite far away, the price actually is cheap. This service solves a major pain point for customers, not just in freeing up space by taking away the old appliance, but also eliminating feelings of regret or frustration by the customer at having to source solutions on their own.

Carol Spieckerman
BrainTrust

Much like Amazon Prime, Best Buy’s Haul-Away service isn’t for everyone, and consumers who opt in have likely done the math. I have spoken with friends who sign up for these types of services at the point of need, then cancel after the need is met. Best Buy’s Haul-Away could be considered a fair deal for consumers remodeling entire kitchens, for example. The new appliances are ready to plug in after Best Buy takes off, maybe with a couple of laptops thrown in. The success of Best Buy’s Haul-Away service will hinge on long-term usage and loyalty to the program.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

I love the intention behind this, but the steep price is going to dissuade consumers from being eco-friendly more than it will encourage them. Retailers should take on more of the reverse logistics process, even if it’s not a return, but when the cost to the consumer is high, it’s not going to be very enticing.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

The $199 price tag for Best Buy Standalone Haul-Away service seems high if you only have one appliance to dispose of, but if you have multiple items to recycle it seems reasonable. The best benefit of this service is the convenience. Finding the proper disposal of bulky and hazardous materials can be a headache and Best Buy is making it easy.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

I love everything about this service from Best Buy, but I do think $199 is a pretty steep barrier for many households. But perhaps that is their thinking: offer the standalone service at a very high price, which may encourage people to buy a new product and suddenly the $39.99 haul-away for replaced items feels pretty cheap!

David Spear
BrainTrust

Best Buy has the right strategy but may need to revisit the price point of $199. Several years ago, my electric utilities company promoted a program to pick up old fridges and dispose of them responsibly for FREE. They also had a program to supplement your attic insulation for nearly a one-third the cost of doing it with a commercial company. Both programs were hugely successful. I realize reverse logistics can be costly, so I have no issue with Best Buy charging for services, but they might want to trial several price points, say $79, $99, $139, $199 and determine which one is more optimal for the long term.

Scott Norris
Guest

Here in the Twin Cities, we have a nonprofit job training outfit called Tech Dump which accepts and recycles consumer appliances and electronics at a much lower cost than Best Buy – you have to drive it there, but for an old microwave or flat screen TV, paying $30 to get it off my hands and help folks learn skills, it’s very much worth it.

For larger appliances, like that GE dryer where the tiny plastic stem to the selector knob broke off and you can’t replace the module, our local large appliance chain Warners’ Stellian takes the old unit away at no cost when you buy a new one, with free delivery and very reasonable installation.

We’re proud to have Best Buy headquartered here in MSP – but it’s strange that they’re out-competed by local “little guys” – I wonder if this will be the case in other markets as well?

Rich Kizer
BrainTrust

Wait a minute. When we bought a new freezer/refrigerator, the company took the old unit out of the house for nothing. That’s stiff competition. Maybe a new trend in competitive services is on the horizon.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is a solid program. Added to a purchase, $199 is a small price to pay for them to take away the old ones and recycle them. Good for Best Buy.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

If you compare haul-away prices when you purchase large appliances from Home Depot, Costco, etc. they are comparable to Best Buy’s $199 service. The price should not deter customers from taking advantage of the haul-away services as the alternative is a landfill. Stressing the importance of our personal environmental impact of what happens to our old stuff when we upgrade our homes and tech stack is a critical part of the marketing for this strategy – it can be eye-opening.

Retailers and manufacturers should take more responsibility in helping to reduce waste and I love Best Buy’s initiative. I hope others will learn from this strategy.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

I don’t get this. If I buy a new stove Best Buy will haul my old one away for $20 or some other minimal fee. If I want an old refrigerator removed my local electric company will come, remove it, recycle the parts and give me a check for $50. So, why the $200 fee for similar activity? I could see it if multiple appliances (like ten of them) were being removed, but the truth is people tend to replace appliances one or two at a time, so why wouldn’t consumers just pay the lower fee to have their old appliances removed? If Best Buy really wants to help the planet let them do what DTE Energy does for me – pay me to take old, inefficient appliances away.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

$199? That’s a pretty steep test of people’s principles … and I suspect one that many people won’t pass. (And God help them if there’s ever a hint that the disposal is less than 101% proper.)

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

It’s refreshing to see a company doing good, not just saying good things about the environment. Anyone who has ever had to dispose of a large household appliance has considered paying someone, at least once, to remove it. Now consumers can feel a sense of social responsibility vs shame when disposing of out-dated appliances. Way to make all boats rise, Best Buy.

Anil Patel
BrainTrust

I think Best Buy has taken a great initiative to advocate for environmental sustainability. Their idea of getting e-waste “responsibly and safely recycled” seems promising. If paying a fee of $199 can help us get a step closer to sustainability, then the price shouldn’t seem too heavy on pockets. We have been criticizing brands for not being inclusive and environmentally responsible, so now this our chance to act right and appreciate the conscious effort made by Best Buy. If we do not want to jeopardize the ability of future generations to meet their needs then, “we will have to take steps today for a better tomorrow.”

Oliver Guy
BrainTrust

I love BB’s efforts here — ticks many boxes from a sustainability perspective as consumers sometimes worry about whether items are disposed of responsibly. It also will please investors and is a great effort at looking towards the sustainability focused investor. It would be interesting to understand if there are concerns about deeper legislation appearing in the future for retailers of electrical products and that this is a proactive move ahead of this.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I love to see a company following through on sustainability efforts in a meaningful way. "
"...they might want to trial several price points, say $79, $99, $139, $199 and determine which one is more optimal for the long term."
"If Best Buy really wants to help the planet let them do what DTE Energy does for me – pay me to take old, inefficient appliances away."

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