Whether or not you agree with the urgency of a solution for recycling electronics, our e-waste, statistics show that Americans are producing over 250 million tons of trash each year. That’s a lot of waste filling up landfills across the world. Find out what the challenges are to getting more people involved in recycling their unused and outdated electronics.

With Americans producing over 250 million tons of trash each year, it is easy to focus on recycling everyday items such as cans and bottles. But what about recycling electronics? Face it, we love our gadgets. And with lightening-speed advances in technology we can easily replace our brand new phone, computer, laptop, or iPod before the packaging has even started to decompose. With this additional burden of a different kind of waste to our national and international landfills, it’s no wonder that the government and large corporations are working to devise an effective way to get rid of of our old toys.

The first challenge of implementing an effective program for recycling electronics is to change consumer behavior. Buyers may see a cardboard bin for their old phone placed in locations where they purchase a new phone. However, many of those old phones remain in drawers at home. The inconvenience of remembering to bring the phone, or the prospect of going home and returning with the device, deters many would-be recyclers from participating.

One solution may be incentives, such as dollars saved, when bringing their old electronic devices. The office supply store, Staples, recently offered such a program for paper shredders. Customers who purchased a new shredder received a discount when they recycled their older shredder. Since more people are using paper shredders at home to protect mis-use of their personal information, many homeowners may go through several machines before they find one that will handle their personal paper loads.

Another challenge is with educating the public on how and where to go for recycling electronics. Many communities offer special events throughout the year so people can bring their electronics for recycling to a local location. This requires that the community participants put that date on their calendar and then find the time to bring the item to the location. The success of the event relies on the personal desires and motivations of the community to participate in recycling electronics. In some cases it may still be too much of an inconvenience for our hectic lifestyles. A system more conducive to a successful program may be to allow consumers to place old electronics curb-side for trash pickup along with their everyday trash items. In a system such as this, even the seven percent of Americans who state that they are not concerned with e-waste may even participate, keeping our landfills a little less filled.

As with most issues that affect the larger community as a whole, voluntary and incentivized programs for recycling electronics may soon be joined by legislation from the U.S. government to compel compliance. Whether or not an E-waste bill will come into law, environmental groups and electronic manufacturers such as Dell and Apple support the idea of recycling old electronics. And since the majority of consumers polled say that recycling electronics is just not convenient, perhaps more effective ways to accomplish this goal within the communities will push us to solve this trash problem on our own.

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