Lack of Awareness on how to Recycle Electronics has Created Mountains of Toxic e-Waste in Arizona Homes

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 Or the Zenith TV you got as a graduation present that’s been replaced by your 52″ flatscreen?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

8 Comments On This Topic
  1. Chuck - E-waste Advocate posted
    September 30, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Hey Park, you can find where to recycle anything you have by visiting or by calling the number. Just another option to be aware of :)

  2. Park posted
    October 1, 2009 at 8:24 am

    I just checked out their Beta site. Brilliant, and easy to use. Unfortunately they don’t have Goodwill stores on their places to drop off many kinds of recyclables. I’ll reach out to them. Thanks for the heads up on

  3. GF posted
    October 1, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Waste Management Recycle America has a great e-waste recycling program. visit the following link for a listing of their drop off locations by state:

    As the nation’s leading ethical recycler of electronic waste, Waste Management is one of less than a dozen electronics recycling companies to have multiple plants with both ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2008 certification – just FYI

  4. Park posted
    October 1, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Thanks GF for letting us know what Waste Management is doing with e-waste. The more we can all inform the public the better. I appreciate you taking the time to send a comment.

  5. mark posted
    May 11, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Can any sort of metal be taken in for recycling? Of course, I am sure they can be somehow, but will recycling centers actually pay you for any kind of metal? Even like steel? I have a whole bunch of scrap in my yard I would completely be willing to haul it down to the closest recycling place if I was certain they would give me some cash for it. Even if it was just a little bit. It would still be worth it I think.

  6. Rob Poole posted
    September 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Just FYI, a year or two ago I tried to recycle an old UPS that I had replaced. The UPS contains a lead-acid battery, but it’s still considered office equipment, even for a home office. Well, Staples wouldn’t take it, even though they advertise that they recycle e-waste even without a purchase. (They also sell UPSes.)

    The manager at the store, in fact, said she was unaware of any e-waste recycling program for any Staples store. (Great communication between the mothership and the individual stores!) They suggested taking the lead-acid battery separately to an automotive shop, but I haven’t had tremendous luck with that route either because most car parts stores don’t want to touch something that clearly isn’t an automotive part.

    Recently, I upgraded to a new color printer, and I realized that I really shouldn’t just throw out the old printer. So again, I did a bit of searching — this time I hunted online for a resource that would work, and found this article! Thanks for the links. I’m going to be going over this info with my fiancee and finding a place to recycle this stuff very shortly.

  7. Park posted
    September 1, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    I just dropped a bunch of stuff at WesTch Recycling in phoenix,, and I’m pretty sure they’d take your UPS, providing, of course, you live in Phoenix.

    Checkout to find out where you can recycle anything about anywhere. Hope that helps.

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