FunNature & AnimalElectronic waste could reach 75 million tons by 2030

Electronic waste could reach 75 million tons by 2030

A new report from the United Nations Organization has exposed that the accumulation of discarded electronic products on the planet is becoming worrying. Electronic waste, electronic waste or e-waste , is made up of mobile phones, printers, televisions, electric toothbrushes and many other electronic items that we no longer use and that end up piled up in the trash.

If in 2014 humanity dumped about 44.4 million metric tons of unwanted electronic waste, in 2019 52.7 million tons (53.6 million metric tons) of electronic waste were generated worldwide; they weighed more than all adults living in Europe. And of all that electronic waste, less than a fifth was recycled.

According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 , by 2030, that number is projected to grow to around 74.7 million tons , which is roughly the equivalent of eight times the weight of China’s Three Gorges Dam. . We are talking about a doubling of the 2014 figure in just 16 years, the UN warns.

The countries that throw the most electronic waste are Norway, with an average of 26 kilos per person and the United Kingdom, with 23.9 kilos.

Every day there is more electronic waste because the growth of consumption, the shorter life cycles of technological devices and the few repair options, drive this increase in purchase and continuous disposal. In addition, as we have pointed out at the beginning, most people do not recycle their electronic products properly, only 9.3 million tons of the 53.6 million tons of electronic waste generated in 2019 were recycled. It does not reach 17 ,5%.

 

Collateral damage

The problem is that this electronic waste is a danger both for health and for the environment , since all these products contain toxic additives or dangerous substances such as mercury or cadmium from laptops or smartphones, which damage the human brain or even refrigerants such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which can leach into the environment; Not to mention that e-waste is also a source of plastic waste.

When we throw away a device and then it goes to the landfill, when these are heated, toxic chemicals are released into the air that damage the atmosphere, negatively contributing to global warming; but they can also seep into groundwater, affecting animals and plants.

The UN report emphasizes the importance of recycling electronic waste, because it represents a valuable “urban mine” , since it also contains metals that can be recovered and reused, such as iron, copper and gold; the value of these raw materials in 2019 alone is estimated at more than $ 57 billion.

“Considerably greater efforts are required to ensure smarter and more sustainable global production, consumption and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment,” said David M Malone, UN Under-Secretary-General.

 

Referencia: V. Forti et al. The global e-waste monitor 2020: Quantities, flows and the circular economy potential. United Nations University/United Nations Institute for Training and Research. July 2, 2020.

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