E-waste levels surge 20 percent in 5 years
The third edition of The Global E-Waste Monitor 2020 launched the 3rd of July by the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership (GESP), states that a record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of e-waste – discarded products with a battery or plug such as computers and mobile phones – is reported generated worldwide in 2019, up 21 per cent in five years. The new report also predicts global e-waste will reach 74 Mt by 2030, almost double the 2014 figure, fuelled by higher electric and electronic (EEE) consumption rates, shorter lifecycles and limited repair options. According to the report, Asia generated the greatest volume of e-waste in 2019 (24.9 Mt), followed by the Americas (13.1 Mt) and Europe (12 Mt), while Africa and Oceania generated 2.9 Mt and 0.7 Mt respectively.
In 2019, only 17.4 per cent of e-waste was officially documented as formally collected and recycled. This means that iron, copper, gold and other high-value, recoverable materials conservatively valued at US $57 billion — a sum greater than the gross domestic product of most countries – were mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse in 2019. If valuable materials within e-waste are reused and recycled, this can promote a circular economy through secondary material use.