Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Green CitizenGreen Citizen
San Francisco, CA

Electronic waste is the fastest growing, yet one of the most neglected waste streams in the United States. Lack of education, regulation, and recycling options contribute to the dumping of e-waste in local landfills and all over the world, especially in disenfranchised developing countries. These activities cause severe social and environmental consequences when toxins in electronic gadgets leach into our groundwater supply. GreenCitizen was founded to combat the e-waste crisis by developing a sustainable metropolitan model where electronics are reused and recycled within the community they are consumed in- a closed loop system.

GreenCitizen adheres to a triple bottom line by deeply integrating social and environmental practices into its strategies and operations. As a result, it earned the only B-Corporation certification in the e-recycling industry. The company currently partners with many buildings in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area to perform regular e-waste pickups. Profits generated are reinvested into community eco-centers in Berkeley, San Francisco, Burlingame, and Mountain View, CA where communities can drop off  electronics (TVs, computers, cell phones, media tapes, microwaves etc.) free of charge and learn about the e-waste crisis.  It’s the company’s strong belief that sustainable behaviors such as this would be widely adopted if made easy and free. To date, over 15,000 businesses and 150,000 individuals support GreenCitizen.

Since the company was founded in 2004, 12.3 million lbs of electronics were responsibly handled, through active reuse and recycling. At GreenCitizen, reuse comes before recycling. By refurbishing electronic products and putting them back onto the market (on eBay), in whole or in parts, consumers are provided alternatives to purchasing the latest electronics and the opportunity to extend the life-cycle of existing, working gadgets. This process helps support a productive economy by encouraging optimal utilization of resources. Through these efforts, GreenCitizen is able to outfit schools and non-profits with refurbished systems that are otherwise outside of their budgets.

Materials that cannot be reused will be dismantled and recycled in certified facilities that adhere to stringent environmental and health standards. Heavy metals (such as lead and copper), plastics, glass, etc. are recovered averting the energy used and pollution linked with mining and drilling for raw materials.  In 2012,  GreenCitizen diverted 2 million lbs of e-waste; 21% reused, 79% recycled, and 0% dumped in landfills.

The journey to eradicate the e-waste crisis is full of challenges. GreenCitizen has figured out a scalable recipe in the San Francisco Bay Area. Support is needed to bring the recipe across the nation. If awarded the People & Planet Award, GreenCitizen would invest in more outreach and educational initiatives, thereby engaging more individuals and organizations. Imagine a GreenCitizen eco-center in your community where you can responsibly reuse and recycle your electronics at no cost.--what a difference that would make.

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GreenCitizen was recently featured by Bloomberg, Forbes, and SFChronicle.


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GreenCitizen employees at the main facility dismantling electronics collected from all eco-centers.
Only 10 percent of the 140.3 million cell phones retired in the U.S. in 2007 were recycled.
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GreenCitizen’s Techbridge initiatives donate refurbished laptops to low income students. Bins of electronic waste collected from eco-centers are sent to GreenCitizen’s main facility to be processed.
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High school volunteers spending a day at GreenCitizen’s facility to help sort electronics, such as separating CDs from jewel cases.   Environmentally conscious consumers recycling household batteries with GreenCitizen at the San Francisco Green Festival.
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Unwanted desktops are refurbished and ready to be put back onto the market and get a second life! Elementary school students visiting a GreenCitizen eco-center where a GreenCitizen employee explains the e-waste crisis in front of the “Wall of Shame.”