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Best Buy buy-back program could boost e-recycling

A buy-back program designed to allay tech buyers' concerns over product obsolescence will let people get money for bringing in older products or have them recycled.

Best Buy today launched a buy-back program designed to quash the fear of technology obsolescence. In the process, tech buyers can find a way to repurpose or recycle their electronic gadgets.

When Best Buy customers purchase the service with their products, they can return their product and get paid for a fraction of its purchase price, depending on how long the consumer had it.

If it doesn't have any resale value, the PC, TV, or smartphone will be either stripped down for parts or recycled in the U.S., as part of Best Buy's existing programs, said George Sherman, the senior vice president of services at the company.

The cost of the buy-back program for laptops, Netbooks, or tablets is $69.99. For smartphones that cost less than $350, it's $39.99, and $59.99 for smartphones that cost more than $350, Sherman said. Best Buy could extend the program to game machines or other electronics, depending on consumer reaction, he said

A customer can get up to 50 percent of the purchase price within six months, up to 40 percent for six to 12 months, up to 30 percent for one year to 18 months, and up to 20 percent for 18 months to two years. For TVs, people have up to four years to get 10 percent.

The primary goal of the buy-back program is to encourage consumers, particularly early technology adopters, to spend on new products rather than wait, Sherman said.

But having another channel to return electronics goods could increase used product take-back rates. Best Buy projects that it will increase the number of electronics it takes back in stores by about 15 percent to 160 million pounds in this fiscal year, Sherman said.