Global e-waste still increases

According to the current Global E-Waste Monitor by United Nations University, United Nations Institute for training and research, International Telecommunication Union, ISWA, in 2019 approximately 53,6 million tonnes of e-waste were generated, this corresponds to 7.3 kilogram per capita.
Source: Oliver Moosdorf;

As the author points out, it is expected that the generation will exceed 74 million tonnes by 2030, which would be an average increase by 2 million tonnes per year. Of the generated e-waste, only 9.3 million tonnes (17.4 per cent) were formally documented collection and recycling. This is an increase by 1.8 million tonnes since 2014, an average annual growth of 0.4 million tonnes. However, at the same time the total e-waste generation increased by 9.2 million tonnes, an annual growth by 2 million tonnes. „This illustrates that recycling activities are not keeping pace with the global growth of e-waste.“ Most of the material is not formally collected and not managed in an environmentally sound manner. As the report points out, in some cases the material is shipped to developing countries. In higher income countries, small size electronics can end in normal waste bins, approximately in the EU 0.6 million tonnes per year.

The largest amount of e-waste come from small equipment (17.4 million tonnes), large equipment (13.1 million tonnes) and temperature exchange (10.8 million tonnes). Screens and monitors (6.7 million tonnes), small IT and telecommunication equipment (4.7 million tonnes) and lamps (0.9 million tonnes) only make the smaller portion of e-waste. The report says that since 2014, the three largest groups also have the largest growth. It is mainly driven by the growing consumption of these products in lower income countries, where these products enhance the living standards. IT and Telecommunications are growing at low speed, while screens and monitors show a slight decrease. This is mainly due to lighter flat panel displays with a decrease in weight even as the number of pieces grows.

Geographically speaking, the largest amount of e-waste was generated in Asia by 24.9 million tonnes. Per capita, the highest amount was generated in Europe with 16.2 kilogram. Europe has also the highest documented formal e-waste collection of 52.5 per cent. „In all other continents, the e-waste documented as formally collected and recycled is substantially lower than the estimated e-waste generated“, the report says.

In 2019, 71 per cent of the world population was covered by a national e-waste policy, compared to 44 per cent in 2014. The high number is due to the most populous countries like India and China. However, those 71 per cent only cover 78 out of 193 countries.

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