December 7, 2017
The United Nations has predicted that electronic waste output will reach 50 million tonnes next year.
A new report by the United Nations has forecast that 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste will be generated globally in 2018, reports WasteDive. This represents a significant rise from 2014, when the output was estimated at 41.8 million metric tonnes.
The report found at least fourteen international agreements which are dedicated to regulating e-waste, with nine further agreements at a regional level. As a result, the report highlighted the need for increased co-ordination and collaboration among UN entities in the field of e-waste regulation.
According to the report, the majority of global e-waste initiatives are taking place in the African and Asian regions. The report also recommends greater focus on the life-cycle principle, with more attention to product design all the way from conception to final disposal.
The establishment of policies ensuring the removal of hazardous material from e-waste prior to transportation is also called for, as is superior collaboration with the private sector, in order to investigate a possible increase in levels of investment to tackle end-of-life e-waste.
WasteDive’s Cody Boteler calls e-waste “an international issue” that is “flying under the radar”: He attributes the problem to the constant arrival of new products, causing “an ever-growing tide of discarded electronic devices.”
Boteler highlights not just the environmental downside to the e-waste issue, but the safety impact too, citing how discarded batteries can lead to fires and explosions at recycling facilities and in collections trucks.
He suggests that the ‘right to repair’ might mitigate the problem, saying that “repairing devices can not only save consumers money, but it can be an opportunity for businesses to create jobs and carve out a niche market” – a suggestion also mooted in the UN’s report.
The report in full is available here.
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