Babyboomer with a phone

Older Generations Biggest Contributors to E-Waste

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Last updated January 17, 2024

Baby Boomers could have up to 154 million bits of old tech waiting to go to landfill

US baby boomers could be holding on to 154 million old tech devices as new data shows they are ten times less likely to recycle cell phones and gadgets than millennials.

That’s according to research by the tech recycling experts at SellCell who looked at who’s leading the green tech revolution and who is damaging the environment.

They discovered Baby Boomers in their 60s and 70s need to catch up when it comes to recycling old tech with millennials leading the way. 

The data shows that two years ago Baby Boomers’ share of total tech recycling was 11% whereas today that has fallen to just 5%.

How Much E-Waste is Recycled in the US?

Mobile phone recycling image

Figures show that in the US around 15% of all e-waste is recycled and with baby boomers only accounting for 5% of that figure the number of devices potentially heading for landfill is staggering.

There are approximately 86 million baby boomers living in the US – with an average of 1.8 old devices each at a generational recycling rate of 0.75% that’s close to 154 million bits of tech being dumped into the earth.

Old electronics are full of toxic stuff like arsenic, cadmium and lead that will leak into our ecosystem if buried in a landfill.

Despite being dubbed ‘the greenest generation’ for avoiding single-use plastics, buying fewer clothes and shopping locally, baby boomers have fallen further behind in tech.

Millennials lead the way, accounting for 50% of all tech recycling with Gen Z and Gen X on 22.5% each and Baby Boomers a distant last.

Tech Recycling Data – The Best & Worst Recyclers

The following charts show the best and worst recycling groups by gender, age, age group, state and also by tech brand type. The results are pretty interesting.

Analysis of Age & Gender Groups Recycling Tech

Chart displaying an analysis of age & gender groups who are recycling tech
SellCell Data

The group most likely to recycle their tech are male millennials, accounting for almost a third of all recycling (32%) with female baby boomers the least likely (2%).

Chart showing total gender recycling split for e-waste
SellCell Data

This trend is reversed when all age groups are considered with females now accounting for nearly two-thirds (64%) of all tech recycling compared to just 38% two years ago.

Top 10 States for Recycling Tech 2023

Chart displays Top 10 States Who Recycle Tech
SellCell Data

Florida (17%) is the joint-best state overall for recycling tech alongside California (17%) with Texas third (14%) and New York fourth (11%).

Analysis of Which Phone & Tech Owners Recycle The Most

Chart Displays Which Tech Brand Owners Recycle Most
SellCell Data

Apple products accounted for two-thirds of old recycled tech (66%) with Samsung second (18%) and Sony third (4%).

Why Are Older Generations Biggest Contributors of E-Waste?

Unused Phones sitting in a drawer

When asked why Baby Boomers were so far behind other generations when it came to recycling their phones and gadgets, Linda, from Florida suggested a lack of understanding of how to recycle tech was a big factor.

She said:I have mentioned to some of my friends in Florida that there are sites you can use to recycle tech and earn money but I don’t think any of them have ever looked. It’s a terrible excuse I know but things seem to take much longer to do and older generations need to be shown hands-on how to go through the recycling process’.

“Everything in our community is word of mouth so there needs to be enough of our generation taught how to recycle our tech before things start to improve. My husband tends to hand his phones on to me or the kids but we have a lot of old tech sitting around in drawers. Also we don’t really have the financial need to sell our old phones and tablets so once again I offer a terrible excuse.”

What Can Older Generations Do To Help Reduce E-Waste?

How can people reduce E-Waste

Sarah McConomy, COO of SellCell said: “Older generations have a good reputation around the world for being eco-conscious and doing their bit to keep waste down. This is why the results of our data are so surprising with those born between 1946 and 1964 being by far and away the worst generation for recycling tech. For the baby boomers in Florida, we spoke to, the process of recycling tech would appear to be a barrier and more education is needed. Despite the obvious personal benefits of being able to earn money for old technology that would otherwise sit in drawers money doesn’t seem to be a motivating factor”.

“The state of Florida is the second best state in the US for recycling tech so it’s not geographical nor is gender, the issue is clearly generational. But our data shows that things can change quickly with females now contributing two-thirds of all tech recycling, a complete reversal from two years ago”.

“It’s vital as a nation all generations learn to recycle e-waste in greater numbers not only to protect personal data and earn money but also to keep harmful toxins out of our ecosystem.”

To get an idea of value for your old phone and tech visit Our network of accredited buyers will responsibly recycle phones, tablets, smartwatches, consoles and much more and offer you the most cash for your old tech.


All Charts and Data created by SellCell from inhouse user data. No identifiable or personal information was stored.

  • Research shows that the average person has 1.8 old devices

  • There are 86 million Baby Boomers in the US based on a US population of 333,287,557 in 2022

  • 15% of Americans recycle electronic devices

  • Only 5% of that 15% are Baby Boomers based on research that shows Baby Boomers account for only 5% of tech recycling (see chart above)
  • We can then say that the electronic device recycling rate of Baby Boomers is 15 x 0.05 = 0.75% so less than 1%
  • At an average of 1.8 devices per Baby Boomer that means 154 million bits of tech are not being recycled and dumped into the earth.