e-waste-1What are you doing with that old dust-covered Atari you have sitting in the basement? That useless printer? Or the Zenith TV you got as a graduation present that’s been replaced by your 52″ flatscreen?

If you’re like most consumers, chances are you will dispose of your electronics, and all of the toxic material inside, someplace rather than a recycling center specifically designed to handle e-waste. These are the findings from a Rocky Mountain Poll released this morning by Behavior Research Center.

According to the study, here is how consumers typically dispose of electronics:

  • 39% would donate to charities such as Goodwill Industries
  • 25% would palm it off on a friend
  • 15% would simply put it in the garbage destined for landfills
  • 4% said they have no clue what to do with their electronic stuff

The primary challenge to recycling e-waste is the relatively low consumer awareness of how and where to recycle. The study found:

  • Awareness declines in rural areas
  • Awareness declines among younger consumers (who are the most likely to own and update their electronic equipment)
  • Awareness “falls off” in middle and lower income groups
  • It also appears that a special public
 information campaign may be needed for Hispanic consumers who are among
 both the most likely to have unused equipment at home (59%) and are the
 most likely to believe that it is okay to dispose of such material in
 the garbage (34%).
Earl de Berg, Chairman of Behavior Research Center

Earl de Berg, Chairman of Behavior Research Center

According to Earl de Berg, Research Director at Behavior Research Center, “There are private companies in Arizona that specialize in receiving, recycling, and otherwise disposing of used electronic equipment, but they appear relatively invisible to consumers. These companies are principally oriented to providing services to business, industry and government, even as much of the toxic e-waste problem is in the basements, garages, and homes in our neighborhoods.  A clear need exists to increase consumer awareness of specific recycling options.”

Private companies like West-Tech Recyclers target commercial accounts, even though they are a great resource for consumers.

de Berg added that it may be reasonable to conclude that much 
material that is currently stored in garages and closets will still end 
up in city trash barrels unless specialized collection centers do more
 to make the pubic aware of their services and locations.

One option for consumers is Earth911. This is a terrific online resource to find out where to conveniently recycle just about everything, including electronics. But it still requires them to take their old electronics to a specialized facility.

To read the entire study, click here: Rocky Mountain Poll