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UN concerned about growing e-waste “tsunami”

UN concerned about growing e-waste “tsunami”

May 14, 2015

Global e-waste is expected to reach 50 million tonnes by 2017, and India is said to be a “major destination for European waste”.E-Waste streets130911

Blue and Green Tomorrow and The Hindu reported on the effects of e-waste, with the UN expressing “grave concerns” about the increase in e-waste being “illegally dumped in developing countries”. With levels of e-waste set to reach 50 million tonnes by 2017, the UN’s latest report found that up to 90 percent of e-waste is “being dumped illegally”, with a value of around $19 billion (€16 billion).

This follows another UN report last month, which stated that e-waste reached 41.8 million tonnes around the world in 2014, and noted that less than 16 percent of all e-waste produced has been recycled or reused. The UN also added that the cost to the global economy is around $52 billion (€45 billion), with 200 million people affected by “significant health threats” from the release of toxic chemicals at dumping sites.

Countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, China, Pakistan, Vietnam and India are “bypassing the legitimate recycling market”, according to the UN, and are becoming “illegal hubs for e-waste”. The Hindu noted that the Indian subcontinent in particular “has turned into a major destination for European waste”, calling India “a victim of e-waste crime”. Much is sent to Asia as “exporting e-waste to Asia worked out 10 times cheaper than processing it”, and the UN called this a “toxic time bomb”.

The UN’s Executive Director of Environmental Protection, Achim Steiner, stated that countries need to “implement legislation that would encourage the recovery of valuable materials and other toxic waste in devices”, adding: “We are witnessing an unprecedented amount of electronic waste rolling out over the world. Through enhanced international cooperation and legislative coherence, stronger national regulations and enforcement, as well as greater awareness and robust prevention measures we can ensure that the illegal trade and dumping of e-waste is brought to an end.

“This will create a win-win situation, whereby rare and expensive elements are safely recycled and reused, boosting the formal economy, depriving criminals of income and reducing health risks to the public.”

Categories : Around the Industry

Tags : E-waste Environment WEEE

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