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cellphones Environmental Leader

Americans Hoarding Electronics, Not Recycling Them

cellphones Environmental LeaderThe rate at which Americans acquire new electronic devices far outpaces the rate at which they recycle unwanted ones.

A study commissioned by Staples, titled American Tech Recycling Habits, found that while 74 percent of Americans own two or more television sets and 38 percent own two or more smartphones, only 8 percent have recycled their unwanted gadgets.

Owning a gadget does not preclude the average American from wanting another one. The study found that 52 percent would like to receive more gadgets this holiday season, 36 percent of whom said it was because they would like to own the latest technology available. But people don’t always receive the gadget they want. Of the people who said they would like a new device this year, 56 percent said they have received a gadget they didn’t want as a gift.

Many people also indicate that they consistently replace their old devices. More than a third of respondents — 36 percent — replaced their smartphones less than a year ago, and 23 percent replaced their TV in that same time period. Of those who have replaced gadgets in the past year, only 11 percent recycled the old one.

As a result, American households are swimming with gadgetry. For every 100 American households, there are 139 smartphones, 119 laptop computers and 252 TVs.

Rather than recycling unwanted gadgets, 24 percent of Americans are more likely to hoard them, 14 percent are more likely to regift them and 10 percent are more likely to sell them for cash.

The study found that misinformation is the culprit behind the American penchant for hoarding their unwanted electronics. Thirty-one percent of people don’t know that unwanted devices can be recycled, and 29 percent don’t have the opportunity to do so in their areas.

Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, in August partnered with Electronic Recyclers International to launch a service that makes it easier for businesses to recycle old electronics.

Photo via Shutterstock.

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2 thoughts on “Americans Hoarding Electronics, Not Recycling Them

  1. So-called ‘recycled electronics’ is really a misnomer as much of these devices which are “recycled” end up in Third World countries where their valuable metals are removed while the rest is discarded in a trash heaps where they end up damaging the environment.

  2. That’s probably caused at least in part by the approx. $200 U.S. cost to recycle a computer, whereas the recycled value is only around $30. This could change, with community based organizations such as Burlington Vermont’s http://repairvt.org/repair/home a not-for-profit that takes electronic components for free and up-cycles them. This organization also has ties to Habitat for Humanity International so a CPU recycled in Vermont can end up anywhere around the globe.

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