Our gadget addiction has a downside: the truckloads of e-waste (electronic waste) left behind. A new Gadget Census Study from Retrevo finds that there's a major disconnect for Americans when it comes to knowing how—and where—to recycle old TVs, smartphones, video game consoles and laptops. The study found that 17% of people didn't know how to recycle old gadgets, and 26% just "didn't get around to it." The states with the best e-waste recycling rates included California and Oregon (45%-60%), while Alaska, Arkansas and Georgia had the worst recycling rates (23%-32%).
But retailers and manufacturers are stepping up, making it easier for people to find bins and kiosks where they can drop used gadgets. Costco and Sam's Club both have a trade-in program for old gargets and in-store recycling services. Best Buy has pledged to collect 1 billion pounds of electronics and appliances for recycling and has set up free drop-off kiosks in stores. The company ecoATM provides drop-off boxes for old cell phones and mp3 players and video games. On average, customers receive $25 back when recycling old phones and players.
There's a major need for such innovative e-waste recycling programs. Using data drawn from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Retrevo calculated that by the end of 2010 there will be so much e-waste that has accumulated since 2000 it could "cover the island of Manhattan in old electronics three feet deep" and that "by the year 2020 there will be so many old, unused, or broken computers, printers, cell phones and TVs, they could fill enough dump trucks to circle the earth twice."