Your gadget attachments are getting in the way of recycling e-waste

Old devices in trash
(Image credit: Pixabay/Glavo)

Samsung recently published the findings of a survey it conducted on the attitudes American users have toward electronic waste (e-waste) and the results speak to their reluctance to recycle.

As it turns out, a lot of people have a hard time letting go of their old devices and that’s contributing to an increasing amount of global e-waste. This information comes from the Green Print Survey that Samsung conducted with global intelligence company Morning Consult. They asked 2,210 people over the age of 18 what is holding them back from being more environmentally friendly.

According to the survey, almost 50 percent of respondents agree that e-waste is a major problem for climate but 72 percent don’t recycle their devices. This raises two questions: what do people do with that old tech and why don't they recycle?

Stuffing them away

Apparently, people put them away in various locations around the house for safekeeping. 36 percent of people admitted that they have a “designated e-waste junk drawer” where they put away old electronics (that number goes up to 54 percent for young people belonging to Gen Z). Stuffing them in a box and hauling them away to the garage or attic is another popular method with 35 percent of men surveyed.

As to why people don’t recycle, it’s because they’re so attached to their gadgets, or as Samsung puts it, they have “Digital FOMO” (fear of missing out). 24 percent of respondents said they were afraid of losing photographs on old phones. 23 percent save devices just “in case something happens to the new one”. And when looking at the age brackets, the older generations tend to be warier of sensitive information leaking.

A quarter of the eldest participants say they hold on to their e-waste because they believe that old devices still have sensitive information on them and don’t want it getting out there. That number drops to 8 percent for Gen Z respondents who appear to be more confident in software security. Younger generations are also more likely to save used devices to give them away as gifts later.

Recycling recommendations

In addition to the survey findings, Samsung offered a variety of suggestions on what people can do with e-waste. The company recommends taking your e-waste to one of its 1,700 recycling locations across the United States. Locations near your home can be found by looking them up on Samsung’s Responsible Recycling webpage and clicking "Drop off today."

It also recommends repurposing Galaxy smartphones by downloading the Smart Things app and using it around the house like a baby monitor, for example. You can also try fixing devices yourself via Samsung’s self-repair program to increase their longevity, but it’s limited to only a few smartphones like the Galaxy S20 and S21.

For keeping old photos, we strongly suggest you upload them to a cloud storage service. TechRadar recently updated its list of the best cloud storage sites for 2022, which includes Google Photos, OneDrive, and Flickr. Be sure to check it out. 

Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.