It’s the Holiday season, and lots of people have shiny new gadgets on their wish list.  Whether it’s the latest in mobile phone technology, tablets and laptops, mp3 players, or digital cameras, electronics often top the list of desired gifts this time of year.  But what happens to all those old electronics once they’ve been replaced?

In the U.S., about two-thirds of used electronics are collected for reuse or recycling, according to a new report from the United Nations.  That’s not bad, but many consumers don’t participate in the proper recycling of e-waste.  Instead, items are thrown in the trash, and as a result, end up in landfills, where toxic materials from these devices can seep into the ground and pollute the local water supply.

The UN report indicates the average American generates over 65 pounds of e-waste every year – more than we take in – and about four pounds more per person than any other large country.  But to be sure, this is a global issue, and the UN estimates that by 2017, global volumes of e-waste will increase by one-third.

So after you find that great new high-tech apparatus under the Christmas tree next week and it’s time to discard the old model, remember to properly recycle your old electronic devices.  Look for information from retailers regarding recycling of e-waste, and find out if your community holds special hazardous waste disposal days.  Protect the environment, and recycle your e-waste – and all waste – properly!

IEEE Spectrum