UN sees global rise in e-waste, but very little is recycled


Old technology is a terrible e-waste of space.


There were 44.7 million metric tons of electronic waste produced in 2016, says a new report from the United Nations. The Global E-waste Monitor report, released on Wednesday, says that’s about equal to 4,500 Eiffel Towers. When breaking it down, that means a family of four generates about 176-pounds of discarded electronics in a year.


E-waste is almost anything electronic — air conditioners, freezers, heat pumps, screens, laptops, monitors, lamps, home appliances, smaller gadgets like calculators, electric kettles, electronic toys, and of course, phones. Many of these devices contain toxic elements, like lead, which can pollute the soil and environment if not properly discarded.


According to the report, there’s been an 8% increase in e-waste from 2014-2016 and analysts expect that number to rise by 17% by 2021. This is caused by the rapid speed at which we get new technologies and discard old ones.

Staten Island e-waste pickup program to expand to other boroughs

Approximately 80% of electronic waste is improperly discarded and undocumented.

(Bill Hinton/Getty Images)


The UN report notes that most e-waste, about 80%, is not disposed of properly and unsafely. Much of it is burned or dumped, posing risks the environment and global health. Only 20% of e-waste from 2016 was documented, collected and properly recycled.


While some of the materials in electronics are toxic, many of the materials are reusable and have both monetary and physical worth. Recoverable materials in electronics include gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value metals. According to the report, the total value of all raw materials from e-waste in 2016 is approximately $65 billion.


America sits in the middle of the five major regions of the world in terms of e-waste. Asia generates the greatest amounts of e-waste, followed by Europe, the Americas, Africa and Oceania.


The report says its goals in compiling this information is to not only track the amount of waste generated but to set targets and create and analyze policies for better waste management and best practices.

Tags:
technology
featured lifestyle
united nations

Send a Letter to the Editor

Join the Conversation:
facebook
Tweet

قالب وردپرس