Global Electronic Waste is Growing!

Recycle IT – January 2018

Electronic Waste has grown Globally by 8% over two years

More than 44 million metric tonnes of electronic waste was generated during 2016, but only 20% has been documented as being collected and recycled, a recent United Nations University (UNU) report found.

E-Waste System Boards from Computers
E-Waste System Boards from Computers

Today about eight in ten people on the Earth have or are covered by broadband signal and the population of 7.4 billion has 7.7 billion mobile device subscriptions –  amazing but it brings waste!

In 2017,  the Global E-waste Monitor found that items ranging from televisions to solar panels created an electronic waste “mountain” which in weight terms come close to the combined weight of Great Pyramids of Giza.

The report suggests that only one-fifth of global electronic waste is being recycled, despite the waste containing very recoverable materials, such as gold, copper and platinum.

The report produced suggests a 17% increase in electronic waste by 2021, making it the fastest growing domestic waste stream globally. This compares to an increase of 8% between 2014 and 2017 so its forecasted as ever increasing.

What the United Nations say!

Jakob Rhyner from the United Nations University, said. “Improved measurement of e-waste is essential to set and monitor targets, and identify policies. National data should be internationally comparable, frequently updated, published, and interpreted.

Today’s global and regional e-waste estimates which are based on production and trade statistics do not adequately cover the health and environmental risks of unsafe treatment and disposal through incineration or landfills.”

According to the report, just 4% of e-waste produced in 2016 is known to have been discarded into landfills. However, more than 75% is believed to have been incinerated, recycled through informal operations or remains stored in households.

Recycle IT - Computers for Recycling
Recycle IT – Computers for Recycling

The report notes that Europe is the second largest e-waste generator, behind the US, per inhabitant, but that it has the highest collection rate at 35%. Africa, meanwhile, generates 1.9kg per inhabitant, but there is hardly any information on collection rates.

Fridge Appliances

Small, large refrigeration type appliances contribute to 75% of global e-waste by weight and the report anticipates that these will be the areas of fastest growth. More disposable income and increased technological applications were cited as drivers for the increase.

Phones and TV’s

The report also says the number of mobile phone subscriptions now exceeds the world’s population. More than eight in 10 people on Earth are covered by broadband signal and the population of 7.4 billion has 7.7 billion mobile device subscriptions.  The report also found that many older analogue TVs are unnecessarily trashed, while the average smart phone life cycle is between 18 months to two years.

Countries have been implored by the UNU to create better design practices in electrical and electronic equipment to facilitate reuse and recycling (EEE), and implement better tracking of e-waste and any recoverable resources.

Computers for Recycling - Recycle IT
Computers for Recycling – Recycle IT

The Basel Action Network (BAN) has reiterated a plea for electronic companies to publicly publish information on e-waste destinations. This follows an investigation revealing that many discarded electronic items are being exported to Asia for treatment, leading to unsafe labour and environmental conditions in the recipient countries.

About Recycle IT

Recycle IT is an award-winning not for profit social enterprise providing a collection and drop off service for all types of waste electrical, electronic and metal items. During the last 18 months Recycle IT offered drop off and collection services to 140,000 homes and organisations in Dublin and surrounding areas collecting a range of WEEE which includes thousands of dishwashers, computers, cables, monitors, microwaves, TV’s and metal items.

Our electrical community collection service is provided in partnership with WEEE Ireland. Recycle IT are supported by Pobal, South Dublin County Council and authorized by the National Waste Collection Permit Office and the local authorities across Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow.

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