Discarded phones, computers and electronics behind world's fastest growing waste problem

The amount of e-waste we generate annually could build 4500 Eiffel Towers

The World Generated 4500 Eiffel Towers' Worth Of Electronic Waste Last Year

Put simply, the study found that rising incomes and falling prices on electronic goods was driving the rising amount of e-waste.

The Global E-Waste Monitor said in 2016, 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated - the equivalent of nearly 4,500 Eiffel towers - and only about 20% was recycled. Remember, only 20 percent of the e-waste accumulated in 2016 was recycled.

Despite 66% of the global population being covered by national e-waste management laws, only 41 countries quantify e-waste generation and recycling streams. "National e-waste policies will help minimize e-waste production, prevent illegal dumping and improper treatment of e-waste, promote recycling, and create jobs in the refurbishment and recycling sector", added Sanou. When you compare that to China, who produces around 16 percent of the world's waste and recycles about 18 percent of it this is quite astonishing considering that the US has around 325 million people to China's roughly 1.4 billion.

The Global E-waste Monitor report, compiled by the United Nations University (UNU), represented through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme hosted by UNU's Vice-Rectorate in Europe, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), calls for an overhaul in global recycling efforts.

Numbers from the report show that a growing number of countries have adopted e-waste legislation.

Just 20 per cent of the waste is documented as having been recycled, despite the amount of gold, silver, platinum, copper, palladium and other high-value metals and materials being worth around $55bn (£41bn). Africa, for example, accounted for only about five percent of the total e-waste generated-roughly zero of which was recycled.

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As a result, the average worldwide per capita e-waste generated was 6.1 kilograms in 2016, up 5 per cent from 5.8kg in 2014.

India's mobile subscriptions crossed 1.2 billion in January 2017, according to an Ericsson Mobility Report, while globally, the numbers stood at 7.6 billion in the first quarter of the year.

The weight of all the chargers for mobile phones, laptops et cetera, now produced each year is estimated at 1 million tons, highlighting the need to make power adapters compatible with more devices, following universal standards developed and promoted by the ITU.

"The world's e-waste problem continues to grow". India's electronics industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, it said while noting that the formal e-waste recycling sector in India is now being developed in major cities. "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".

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