File this one under good news and bad news. First the bad news: a new study by Pike Research projecting the dumping of so-called e-Waste (computing hardware components and parts) says its going to get worse before it gets better. E-Waste is expected to peak at 73 million metric tons a year globally in the year 2015. That's a lot of old monitors and printers, etc.
So what is going to happen in 2016 to turn things around? Pike's best guess is that all of these recycling programs we hear about will finally start hitting critical mass.
It can't happen soon enough. Consider this:
File this little factoid buried in the fine print as both good and bad news: on average worldwide, countries are recycling only 15% of their old tech gear. That sounds terrible, because it is terrible. The silver lining is that there's a lot of room to improve those e-Waste figures dramatically by just boosting the three P's (policy, programs and participation).
There are a number of companies that are demonstrating that the three P's can make a difference. I like to give credit where it's due; so hat's off to Dell, HP, Office Depot, Staples and IBM.
Staples launched its recycling program a couple of years ago. It will take old gear off your hands and give it a proper burial bound for recyling for $10 (you pay, not them) a component. Old ink cartridges will get you a $3 coupon for your next cartridge for certain brands (that's roughly a 10% discount!). The first year, Staples recycled over two million pounds of old gear.
Office Depot has a similar program and recycled 1.5 million pounds last year.
Dell accepts old gear for recycling for free. The Austin, TX-based computer maker has set a goal of recycling 275 million pounds by this year. It will clearly reach that goal, as it was already at 255 million pounds by the end of 2008.
HP is offering to buy back old gear and count it towards your next HP purchase and has set a staggering goal of reaching two billion (that's "B") by next year. Godspeed, HP. More power to you!
While others project and promise, IBM is the leader of the pack. It's recycling program launched more than a decade ago has, so far, recycled 1.5 billion pounds of old computing gear.