Global E-Waste Surges 21% in 5 Years: UN Report

The world produced a record 53.6 million tons of electronic waste in 2019, the weight of 350 big cruise ships, a UN report said on Thursday.

The report said the e-waste – discarded products with a battery or plug – surged 21% over the past five years, predicting that it will reach 74 million tons by 2030, almost a doubling of electronic waste in just 16 years.

E-waste, therefore, is the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream fueled mainly by higher consumption rates of electric and electronic equipment, short life cycles, and few options for repair.

“E-waste is a health and environmental hazard, containing toxic additives or hazardous substances such as mercury, which damages the human brain and coordination system,” said the report.

“An estimated 50 tonnes of mercury — used in monitors, PCBs [printed circuit boards], and fluorescent and energy-saving light sources — are contained in undocumented flows of e-waste annually.”

The UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020 was produced by the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), that includes the UN University (UNU), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).

In the middle- and low-income countries, the e-waste management infrastructure is not fully developed, and in some cases, it is entirely absent. Read more…

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