Something we’ve been meaning to post on is a pilot program by Office Depot to rid you of your electronic garbage—you know, the aging computers, TVs, cell phones, etc. that have been piling up in your basement. Until September 6, you can recycle such items at Office Depot for FREE. Go here for details.

The coolest thing about this is that it’s an example of a powerful approach to waste reduction called take-back—or extended producer responsibility. The idea is that if you make (or sell) a consumer good, you own it forever. The consumer merely rents it for the services it provides, and when those services are done-say, after the hard drive explodes-the product goes back to its maker, who must reuse or recycle it. As important, end-of-life responsibility gives manufacturers incentive to improve their product design by eliminating anything that’s hard to handle when their goods come back, such as toxic components and parts difficult to recycle or reuse.

Extended-responsibility legislation in Germany, enacted in 1991, increased the recycling of packaging sevenfold in five years, reduced per capita consumption of packaging by 13 percent overall, and revived reusable containers.