The United Nations Reports That Humans Threw Away 53.6 Million Tons Of E-waste Last Year

A UN report shows that mankind threw away a record 53.6 million tons of electronic products last year, a 21 percent increase in five years.

Recycling efforts have not kept pace with the growth in e-waste, the International Telecommunication Union said in a report released On July 2. Last year, only 17 percent of discarded electronics were recycled. At least $57 billion worth of reusable parts such as gold, silver and platinum are discarded or burned instead of being recycled.

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The International Telecommunication Union has warned that increasing e-waste poses a growing environmental hazard because it contains many toxic materials. Rodger Kuhl, one of the report’s authors, said that following the increased attention surrounding plastic waste, similar work should be done on e-waste. “Otherwise we will have a major crisis,” he told reporters.

Rapid technological innovation and high consumption levels have made e-waste the fastest growing household waste. “We’re talking about a walking dog toy, an electric garden tool or smart clothes that take the pulse,” Says Mr Kuhl. The short life of products and hard-to-repair equipment also exacerbate the waste situation.

Last year, the world produced more than 7kg of e-waste per person, equivalent to the weight of 350 cruise ships. Asia accounted for 24.9 million tonnes, followed by the Americas with 13.1 million and Europe with 12 million. However, Europe and the Americas produce far more e-waste per capita than Asia.