As mountains of electronic waste are filling up the nation's landfills and creating environmental and health hazards, local government agencies are trying to keep up with the growing problem, reports the Washington Post.
From televisions to cellphones, household "e-waste" is ending up in landfills, but a variety of local organizations are battling the issue with ambitious recycling plans.
Some counties are instituting recycling fees on manufacturers. Maryland charges electronics manufacturers $5,000 per year to register with the state, but they receive a discount if they offer a computer take-back program.
A recent study by the Consumer Electronics Association, however, found that 86 percent of consumers across the United States are not aware of local programs. The report also said that only 18 percent of used electronics are recycled. They rest were donated or given away.
Some lawmakers feel that there's a lack of federal laws regarding e-waste.
"What will happen is we will, at a minimum, have a crazy quilt of programs that will make it very hard for manufacturers and those who do business across the country to be in a position again to innovate," said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Despite the fact that more e-waste is being recycled, current recycling programs are unable to keep up with the growing amount of electronics in the waste stream. The EPA's latest data -- from 2005 -- showed 2.6 million tons of consumer electronics were no longer in use, and only 330,000 tons of that were recycled."We're obviously working to get that percentage up. Consumers need to realize that outdated and non-working electronics have value and should not be thrown away," said Scott Sherman of the EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response.