E-waste levels surge 20pc

James Marshall
July 5, 2020

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.Growing demand for electronic gadgets, mostly with short life cycles and few options for fix, has caused e-waste - discarded products with a battery or plug - to surge by more than a fifth in the past 5 years, according to the joint study by the United Nations University, the UN Institute for Training and Research, the International Telecommunication Union and the International Solid Waste Association.

About 90 per cent of India's e-waste is recycled in the informal sector, the UNU report added.

To put the numbers into perspective, 53 million tons is substantially heavier than every adult in Europe put together, or as much as 350 cruise ships the size of the Queen Mary 2. Together these three countries accounted for almost 38 percent of the world's e-waste previous year.

E-waste generation has increased by 21 percent in just five years (2014-2019).

When e-waste is properly disposed of or recycled it is less problematic.

Discarded electronic gear also poses a well being and environmental hazard, as it consists of substances this kind of as mercury that can harm the anxious program.

Not recycling e-waste, or not recycling it properly, means that the toxic components of electronics aren't handled correctly, and also that carbon is being released into the atmosphere.

Considering the fact that electronic devices are sold and thrown away all over the world, managing e-waste also needs to be done globally.

Several countries across the world have understood the threat and the danger such waste can possess and hence around 61 to 78 nations (including India) have adopted a national e-waste policy, legislation or regulation. "This report contributes mightily to the sense of urgency in turning around this unsafe global pattern". Globally, the generation of e-waste grew by 9.2 Mt since 2014 (up by 21% in just five years) and is projected to grow to 74.7 Mt by 2030 - nearly doubling in only 16 years, showing increasing use of electrical and electronic equipment. With every electronic device that is not recycled, materials including gold, silver, and platinum are not recovered-a monetary loss valued at $57 billion, and a hit to the environment as they sit unused while new materials are mined and extracted.

In 2019, the e-waste generated by Asia was 24.9 MT- the highest in the world.

Nonetheless, Europe has consistently been producing less e-waste than Asia and the Americas, which generated 24.9 metric tonnes and 13.1 metric tonnes in 2019 respectively, compared with 12 metric tonnes in the European Union and UK.

Ironically, the researchers believed that the report would show global progress being made with how humanity deals with its e-waste.

But a global obsession with smartphones, which tend to be replaced by an updated model after a year and other tech gadgets with short lifespans also helps build e-waste piles.

That is according to the latest edition of the UN's global e-waste monitor report, which tracks e-waste on an worldwide, national and regional basis using official corporate and government figures. While a positive trend, this is far from the target set by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) which is to raise the percentage of countries with an e-waste legislation to 50 per cent.

In September 2015, the U.S. and its member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, identifying 17 "sustainable development goals" (SDGs) and 169 targets for "ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring prosperity for all".

The main types of E-waste in 2019 comprised of small equipment (17.4Mt) such as microwaves and toasters, large equipment (13.1Mt) such as washing machines, and temperature exchange equipment (10.8Mt) such as air conditioners and refrigerators.

'Monitoring e-waste streams will contribute to the achievement of the sustainable development goals'.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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