According to a new report Global E-waste Monitor 2017 report published by the United Nations University (UNU), e-waste increased significantly from 2014 to 2016. An overwhelming 44.7 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste was generated in 2016 alone, which is eight percent higher than the 41.4 million Mt produced in 2014. By 2021, the report expects the amount of e-waste to rise by another 17 percent and total nearly 52.2 million Mt of e-waste.
E-waste is composed of televisions, mobile phones, solar panels, computers and peripherals and many other electronic machines and devices. In a break down of the 44.7 Mt of e-waste generated in 2016, UNU reports: 16.8 Mt amounts for small equipment, 9.2 Mt amounts for large equipment, 7.6 Mt amounts for temperature exchange equipment, 6.6 Mt amounts for screens, and 4.6 Mt amounts for small IT and lamps. However, the most shocking statistic is in 2016, only 20 percent of the world’s e-waste was reported to have been collected and recycled.
UNU reports that four percent of e-waste was disposed of in landfills, while the remaining 76 percent was likely incinerated, recycled by third-party organizations, or stored away in people’s homes. In a press release, the UNU compared the weight of 2016’s e-waste to “nine Great Pyramids of Giza, 4,500 Eiffel Towers, or 1.23 million fully loaded 18-wheel 40-ton trucks, enough to form a line from New York to Bangkok and back.” Jakob Rhyner, Director of the UNU Institute for Environment of Human Security, stated, “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.”
Due to the increased frequency at which people are replacing their electronic devices, as well as the surging rate in which connected mobile devices are being produced and released, global e-waste problems continue to grow. The report predicts small equipment (vacuum cleaners, cameras, electric shavers), large equipment (washing machines, clothes dryers), and “temperature exchange equipment” (refrigerators, freezers, A/C units) will experience the fastest growth in e-waste. These three categories alone account for 75 percent of global e-waste. Other electronics, such as televisions and mobile phones, are expected to grow at a slower rate.
While global e-waste increases each year, nearly 66 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with active e-waste management laws in place. However, it is a matter of enforcing these regulations, making people aware of them, and standardizing them to avoid confusion. Improving these policies would not only help make our planet sustainable but would lead to the creation of more jobs in refurbishing and recycling industries.
HOBI International Inc. is an R2, RIOS, and ISO 14001 certified company that provides refurbishing and recycling services to help others find responsible ways to reuse and dispose of electronic devices. Visit our Enterprise Asset Services and Environmental Services webpages to find out how we can help you become responsible recyclers.