The mountain of e-waste will reach a new high of 57.4 million tons in 2021. Precious raw materials - including gold and silver - are still being incinerated. Companies and citizens are called upon to support recycling and reuse for a circular economy.
Electronic waste is accumulating in drawers and garages at home, and recycling centers are overflowing: According to the Brussels WEEE Forum, 57.4 million tons of broken and unused electrical appliances will be generated in 2021 alone. This means that e-waste will once again reach an all-time high. The mass of discarded refrigerators, monitors and cell phones exceeds even the weight of the Great Wall of China.
On October 14, the international e-waste day, environmentalists are appealing to consumers to have discarded electrical appliances repaired or recycled. That's because the mountain continues to grow: according to the Global E-Waste Monitor 2020, co-authored by the United Nations University, 53.6 million tons of e-waste accumulated in 2019, a 21 percent growth in five years. There is no reversal of the trend in sight: if the trend continues, 74 million tons are expected in 2030.
However, the problem is not only the mass, but also how it is handled. According to calculations by the UN experts, only 17.4 percent of the e-waste produced was collected and recycled in 2019. Many precious raw materials - including gold and silver - were instead incinerated or ended up in landfills, they said. Hazardous substances such as mercury were becoming a danger to people and the environment.
Pascal Leroy, director of the WEEE Forum, cites another environmental issue: as long as used, broken equipment is not returned, sold or donated, raw materials will continue to be mined, causing major environmental damage. While the EU plans good measures to promote electronics recycling, it lags far behind its own goals in reducing e-waste, according to a United Nations study.
Leroy is therefore appealing to companies and consumers on »International E-Waste Day« to »focus on the responsibility we all have to shape a circular economy.«
dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH