Various organisations across the world, including the United Nations, have spoken about growing e-waste and the problems associated with it.
According to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, global e-waste generation will reach 74 million metric tonnes (Mt) per year by 2030 – almost double the figures reported in 2014.
This, because of the increasing demand and consumption of electric and electronic goods, shorter lifecycles and limited repair options.
When battery-powered or plug-tethered devices such as laptops, smartphones and televisions become unusable, they are discarded. Such wastes constitute e-waste.
People globally produced 53.6 million metric tonnes of e-waste in 2019, as per the report, which is 9.2 Mt higher than 2014.
As per a Science News report, e-waste contains contain hazardous materials which pose severe risk to human health and the environment if not handled properly. Cadmium and mercury are found in laptops and smartphones. Refrigerant chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons also have the potential to damage environment.
E-waste is also a source of plastic waste and if it is not recycled, it can contribute to global warming.
Apart from these environmental pollutants, e-waste also contains valuable metals like iron, copper and gold.
The UN Environment Programme said in its recent report on e-waste, “The e-waste produced annually is worth over $62.5 billion, more than the GDP of most countries. There is 100 times more gold in a tonne of e-waste than in a tonne of gold ore.”
According to UNEP, the world is on track to generate 120 million tonnes of e-waste per year by 2050 if current trends continue.
The Global E-waste Report was prepared by organisations including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme currently co-hosted by the United Nations University (UNU) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).