Take-back programs give manufacturers the physical responsibility for products or packaging at the end of their useful lives. By accepting used products, manufacturers can acquire low-cost feedstock for new manufacturing or remanufacturing activities, and offer a value-added service to the buyer. Many companies, such as Xerox, have made take-back an essential part of their business operations. Currently, most take-back programs in the U.S. are voluntary, while legislation in many European countries requires manufacturers to take responsibility for the waste costs associated with their products and packaging.
Good candidates for take-back programs include products with packaging that is reusable or recyclable, e.g., disposable cameras and cardboard; products that become obsolete rapidly or have limited lifespan, e.g., furniture, electronics and appliances; products that contain significant material or energy value after use, e.g., power tools and batteries; and products that contain valuable components that can be refurbished and reused, e.g., photocopiers and printer cartridges.