Breast pumps typically rank high among the big-ticket items on new moms' shopping lists. They might spend $300 and use them for less than a year. And then what?
Companies have figured out ways to recycle car batteries, carpets and even diapers, which had been clogging landfills for decades. Why not breast pumps? Options are scarce for green-minded parents, but more may be coming.
One of the biggest breast-pump makers, Medela, launched a pilot program last fall that allows parents to bring used breast pumps to 22 retailers for credit toward a new one. Rival Avent, a unit of the Netherlands-based Royal Philips Electronics (Stock Quote: PHG), lacks a breast pump program now, but plans to let customers return end-of-life products later this year to be recycled.
For now, moms can recycle some parts of their pumps as they would with cans or bottles. One piece of Avent's pump is made of No. 5 plastic, which is accepted in some recycling programs, said a company spokesperson. A spokesperson for Switzerland-based Medela said the bottles that come with its pumps are often recyclable.
"The pump motor, power cord and battery pack may be accepted at recycling programs that specialize in electronics, but moms need to check with their municipality," a Medela spokesperson wrote in a memo. The company's pilot program intends to use returned pumps for research and is "exploring recycling options for breast pumps that are returned."
That's better than nothing, but it's not as good as being able to bring the whole appliance to one place. Can you imagine Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) or Sony (Stock Quote: SNE) suggesting you disassemble your computer or television before recycling the plastic in one place and the electronic innards somewhere else?
Some parents will spend more than $300 on their pumps. That's why many consumers turn to eBay (Stock Quote: EBAY) and Craigslist to sell their old pumps.