Where did you think it was all going?

The old televisions, the old computers and monitors, that first iPhone you bought and then replaced with a new model and then a newer model, the tablet you bought yesterday and will probably replace a year from now, the old Radio Shack TRS-80 you kept in the attic for 30 years until you finally put it out to be "recycled"?

The downside of the great technical revolution of our time is the waste - and the failure to figure out what to do with discarded electronic items, which contain dangerous materials including lead, mercury and cadmium.

This wasn't hard to see coming.

And like many of our seemingly intractable problems, it's difficult to pinpoint the blame - precisely because we are all to blame.

New Jersey tried to address the problem with the Electronic Waste Management Act, which as of 2011 prohibited consumers from putting computers, monitors, laptops and televisions out in the trash and required any manufacturer doing business in New Jersey to pay an annual $5,000 fee and to set up collection, transportation and recycling programs.

Manufacturers can be prohibited from selling their products in the state for failing to comply with the law.

The result:

The Camden County recycler who used to take Cape May County's e-waste has stopped collecting because he can't get rid of the items he has - 600,000 pounds of it stockpiled in three warehouses.

According to John Marcortorano, the owner of the company, the manufacturers aren't fully funding the program. "This is a dirty, ugly secret going on," he told staff writer Richard Degener.

In other states, abandoned warehouses full of old cathode ray tubes - from older televisions and monitors - have been found.

Part of the problem, of course, is that recycling of any material only works if there is a market for the recycled goods. The metals in computer circuit boards can be valuable, cathode ray tubes less so. And it all fluctuates according to supply, which is overwhelming now and will only grow.

So what to do?

Well, consumers could resist the electronic industry's planned obsolescence. Do you really need the latest gadget? Then again, the pace of technological advancement makes obsolescence, planned or not, inevitable.

But certainly, state lawmakers need to take another look at the Electronic Waste Management Act, and the state Department of Environmental Protection needs to re-examine the program it set up under the law.

Because right now, New Jersey's efforts to address the problems associated with electronic waste simply are not working.

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