According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2020 report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the United Nations has warned against the massive surge in e-waste.
The amount of electronic waste has soared by a staggering 21 percent in the last five years up to 53.6 million tonnes, i.e., 7.3kg per person on the planet and is expected to increase to 74.7 million tonnes by 2030, doubling by 2036.
This is not even the worst part. The report estimates that around 7 to 20 percent of all the e-waste is being dumped illegally. Although there is some recycling and reuse of electronic goods in low-income countries, a considerable amount of e-waste is being dumped or exported illegally.
According to the author:
The fate of 82.6 percent (44.3 Mt) of e-waste generated in 2019 is uncertain, and its whereabouts and the environmental impact varies across the different regions.
The main reason behind the increase in e-waste is the growing consumption of electrical and electronic equipment (EEE) and the shorter life cycles as well as increasing difficulty in repairing electronic goods. All these issues are backed by companies seeking to increase profits and sales.
The fact that e-waste is not being disposed of properly is extremely dangerous for the already depleting atmosphere of Earth. Over the past five years only, 8 million tonnes of “CO2 equivalents” were released into the atmosphere from discarded fridges and air conditioners. On top of this, 50 tonnes of mercury used in monitors are dumped annually.
Here’s how much e-waste is produced per region:
- Asia 24.9 million tonnes
- The United States 13.1 million tonnes
- Europe million tonnes
- Africa 2.9 million tonnes
- Oceania 0.7 million tonnes