Photo via Jaymi Heimbuch
According to a study by Pike Research called "Electronics Recycling and E-Waste Issues," we can expect to see a leveling out of the amount of e-waste heading to landfills by 2015.Pike Research expects that in 2015, our e-waste volume will peak at about 73 million metric tons, and decline after that, thanks to government regualtions on proper e-waste recycling, industries trying to save face and get ahead, as well as consumer awareness that tossing gadgets is a giant no-no that can be avoided entirely.
Managing director Clint Wheelock: "On the positive side, the European Union has established a strong regulatory framework with its WEEE and RoHS directives, serving as an example for similar initiatives worldwide. Many leading electronics manufacturers and service providers are also strong exemplars of what corporate social responsibility can achieve — in Pike Research's analysis, this list of leading companies includes Cisco, Dell, HP, Motorola, Nokia, Research In Motion, Sprint Nextel, and Vodafone."
It's also safe to hazard a guess that by that time, companies will have figured out that the materials inside old gadgets are highly valuable for making new gadgets, and will perhaps be putting in place better programs for collection and reuse. After all, eventually recyclers and manufacturers will have to hold hands if they want to still have a planet full of consumers.
However, we're a bit skeptical that e-waste will magically stop growing by 2015, especially as we get more attached to gadgets like cheap netbooks instead of computers, e-readers instead of books, mobile devices we replace every 18 months and so on. We definitely think it'll improve, but plateau and decline? Eeeeehhh...maybe.
An Executive Summary of the report is available for free download on the firm's website (which as of this publishing, is down).