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Study: E-waste build-up will plateau by 2015

Recycling efforts will increase and eventually catch up to the rate at which we're producing electronic junk.

Pike Research

The contribution to landfills from electronics will actually escalate until about 2015, but good news will follow, according to a report released Wednesday by Pike Research.

So-called e-waste will reach a global volume of 73 million metric tons by 2015, then begin to decline in the years following as recycling initiatives and practices catch up to the rate of the production of electronic goods, according to the report called "Electronics Recycling and E-Waste Issues."

The prediction is the firm's own forecast based on the premise that companies and governments worldwide will continue and expand current recycling programs and initiatives--a practice Pike Research said will likely continue now that public awareness of the effects of e-waste dumping have been brought to light.

The report found that the efforts of nonprofit groups and the media to expose the effects of e-waste dumping have influenced original equipment manufacturers and recyclers worldwide to make an effort to clean up their act.

Pike Research touted the following companies as responsible leaders when it comes to recycling e-waste: Cisco, Dell, HP, Motorola, Nokia, Research In Motion, Sprint Nextel, and Vodafone.

It blamed low consumer effort to recycle old stuff as part of the problem, as well the dumping of e-waste in developing countries.

"Consumers have few incentives to reuse or recycle used electronics equipment. In most countries, it is still too easy and relatively inexpensive to throw e-waste in the trash. An optimistic estimate of average recycle rates is about 15 percent. Inconsistent legislation, minimal controls on the recyclers, and little enforcement has also led to widespread and inappropriate dumping of e-waste in developing countries," the report said.