Our increased reliance on personal technology -- laptops, cell phones, computer monitors, printers -- has resulted in vast quantities of garbage in landfills that could have been reused or recycled. Two million tons of tech trash ended up in landfills in 2005, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and only about 380,000 tons were recycled. If Americans recycled the more than 100 million cell phones that are no longer used, the amount of energy saved would be enough to power approximately 18,500 U.S. households for one year.
Some of the materials in personal electronics, such as lead, mercury and cadmium, are hazardous and can release dangerous toxins into our air and water when burned or deposited in landfills improperly. And throwing away metal components, like the copper, gold, silver and palladium in cell phones and other electronics, leads to needless mining for new metals.
Consumers, manufacturers and retailers can all help ensure that older electronics find new homes or new uses. The resources below will help you recycle, donate or resell your unwanted gadgets and keep them out of the waste stream.