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Recycling e-waste: Who should pay?

Study finds consumers love the idea of recycling to combat e-waste, but they don't want to foot the bill.

A recent study by Pike Research has found that over 76 percent of consumers see recycling as the key to reducing the world's e-waste.

However, 37 percent of consumers also think that recycling their e-waste should be a free service, according to "Electronics Recycling and E-Waste Issues," a study released Thursday.

That's not to say consumers necessarily believe electronics manufacturers should be the ones picking up the tab. Only 10 percent of those surveyed saw recycling as a "producer responsibility," and only 14 percent thought the cost of free e-waste recycling should be built-in as part of product purchase price.

The independent survey was conducted by the research firm as a Web-based questionnaire on a "demographically balanced" sampling of 1,000 Americans.

The study results are a bit surprising because many companies offer rebates on new items in exchange for recycled goods, implying that there is already an e-waste recycle tax built into the price of products. There are also many company-sponsored recycling programs. If you go by the statistics in their sustainability reports, the biggest producers and sellers of electronics also do recycle a relatively large amount of consumer e-waste.

Some consumers might also be a bit lazy when it comes to recycling their old tech junk. The average consumer had "2.8 pieces of unused, broken, or obsolete electronics equipment in their home or storage area," according to Pike Research.

Thirty-five percent also thought there should be a convenient service wherein e-waste recycling is picked up at their curb, like they have for other trash.

But not to worry, Pike Research released a report in May that concluded that e-waste build-up will plateau by 2015.