During last year, the world generated electronic waste weighing 53.6 metric tonnes (more than 7 kg per person on earth). Out of this, only 17.4 per cent was collected and recycled – meaning that high value metals like gold, silver, copper, platinum, etc, conservatively valued at 57 US Billion Dollars (a sum greater than the GDP of most countries) were dumped or burned rather than collected for recycling.
This data, given by UN’s Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report, also predicts that global electronic waste – discarded products with a battery or plug – will reach 74 metric tonnes by 2030, thus making e-waste the world’s fastest-growing domestic waste stream.
Highest quantity of electronic waste weighing about 24.9 metric tonnes was dumped by Asian countries, followed by Americas, Europe, Africa and Oceania with 13.1, 12, 2.9 and 0.7 metric tonnes of e-waste respectively.
This data tells us that the global volume of electronic waste has increased by a drastic 21 percent in the last five years. And the concerning part is that in 2019, around 98 Metric tonnes of CO2-equivalents were released into the atmosphere from discarded fridges and air-conditioners, contributing about 0.3 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, thus contributing to global warming.
As far as the composition of global electronic waste in 2019 is concerned : small equipment (17.4 metric tonnes), large equipment (13.1 Mt.), temperature exchange equipment (10.8 Mt.) screens and monitors (6.7 Mt.) lamps, small IT, and telecommunication equipment (>5 Mt.)
UN’s report also stated – “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,”.
The report also states that proper e-waste management could help mitigate global warming.