You could argue that everyone — from your Facebooking auntie to your video-chatting Pop-pop — is a tech enthusiast these days. A lot of people are ditching their old mobile phones for an iPhone 5 or a Galaxy S III, or upgrading a stale computer for a shiny new desktop, laptop or ultrabook. And while it’s certainly exciting to snag a sexy new device, there’s also another certainty: We’re all generating a vast amount of e-waste.
Even more disturbing in light of all the tech junk we’re responsible for, many of us are still not really enamored of the whole electronics recycling thing — despite knowing how harmful this waste is to the environment. Electronics contains toxic materials like lead, mercury and cadmium, and our landfills are swimming in them.
According to a new study, of the 62 percent of Americans who have upgraded to new PCs over the last three years, nearly one-third chucked their old ones in garbage cans. And that only covers PCs. Overall, up to 80 percent of America’s yearly electronics waste isn’t recycled. That equates to about 300 to 400 million devices getting tossed into landfills. In reality, that may only account for two percent of America’s landfill waste, but it’s responsible for 70 percent of overall toxic waste.
Things are changing. As a society, we’re becoming more mindful of how we dispose of our gadgets. The infographic below ends on a hopeful note: At least the last time they replaced their PCs, a sizable chunk of the study’s respondents did donate or recycle their old computers. It also helps that more laws are being passed, more companies are taking on recycling policies, and a greater number of services are emerging for recycling or trade-ins. But even so, there’s clearly still room for improvement.
What do you do with your old electronics when you upgrade? Hit our poll below and let us know.