Obama administration outlines plan for national e-waste recycling

Electronic waste has become a growing problem in the United States, as the constant influx of new products on the market will make old devices obsolete and begin to end up in local landfills. Worse yet, many of these out-of-date items will end up in foreign countries where they will be broken down to extract the precious metals inside. Not only is this a health risk for the people involved, but it can release a host of hazardous gases into the atmosphere.

In an effort to curb this growing problem, the Obama administration has teamed with many of the electronics industry leaders to advocate for a national e-waste strategy to promote U.S.-based recycling and to bring recycling jobs stateside, according to The Miami Herald.

The new e-waste strategy has notable sponsors such as Dell, Sprint and Sony, and these manufacturers will be essential in controlling a device's lifespan from the factory to the recycling bin. According to recent estimates, Americans generate close to 2.5 million tons of used electronics every year, much of which ends up in local landfills or overseas.

The administration's effort to increase e-waste recycling will begin by encouraging companies to use sustainable and efficient methods of producing their products and direct federal agencies to recycle their products in a green manner. In addition, the government will also fund e-waste recycling education programs to inform consumers about the growing problem.

While the effort is a big step in the right direction, many environmental groups believe it does not go far enough to curb the export of waste to foreign countries. However, now that the problem has the national spotlight, manufacturers and state governments can do more to combat the growing issue of electronic waste.