Why Our Gadgets Aren’t Getting Recycled Enough, and How You Can Help – CNET

Even though we’re keeping our phones for longer than we used to, we’re still throwing an awful lot of them — and other electronic gadgets — away. And, according to a new UN Global E-waste Monitor report released on March 20, we’re doing it at a rate that’s almost five times faster than the equivalent materials are being recycled.

Citing data collected between 2010 and 2022, the UN report found that the volume of e-waste generated has risen from 34 billion kilograms to 62 billion kilograms. To drive the point home, the report estimates that this 62 billion kilograms of generated e-waste could fit on 1.55 million trucks, forming a line that would wrap all the way around the Earth’s equator. Meanwhile, the amount of e-waste that has been documented to be recycled has risen from 8 billion kilograms to just 13.8 billion kilograms in that same time period.

The UN’s International Telecommunications Union set a goal to get 50% of the world’s nations (97 countries) to adopt an e-waste policy, legislation or regulation by 2023. But the report shows that this effort is slowing down, and just 81 countries, or 42%, have done anything to address e-waste.

There are factors that can interfere with accurate data. Systems for documenting and reporting the recycling of electronics vary widely by country, for one.

Read more: Phone and Laptop Repair Is Going Mainstream, With a Big Push From iFixit

Watch this: How to recycle your old phone or electronics

How you can recycle electronics

There’s no need to throw away your old phones, batteries, computers and other gadgets when there are many free and easy ways to recycle your electronics, including mailing, taking them to a recycling center, a big-box retail store like Best Buy or Home Depot or sometimes even the product manufacturer. 

If you live near an Apple store, for example, you can hand in your old iPhone or other Apple products to be recycled, and some of those products may qualify for trade-in credit. According to the Apple Reuse and Recycling Program, turning in your devices can “help us get closer to making every product with only recyclable and renewable materials.”

For larger IT recycling needs, Dell’s Asset Recovery Services will take and safely handle equipment even if it’s actually not made by Dell. And if your business or friend group has at least 10 phones to recycle, Smartphone Recycling accepts devices in bulk sent with the assistance of a free, print-at-home FedEx shipping label. In addition to phones, the company accepts Apple products and other tablets.

You could also repair your old devices, with iFixit offering DIY guides and tech companies now making it easier to remove and replace damaged parts. If you don’t like the DIY route, you could also take it back to the manufacturer or a third party for a repair.