E-waste: A rising problem in the modern world

E-waste is a term describing junk electronics including mobile phones, television, monitors, printers and other appliances. E-waste grows globally by 40 million metric tones a year. Toxins from these wastes are emitted when it is improperly burned by scavengers looking for valuable components, such as gold and copper.

A U.N. study said that various wastes from discarded electronics will rise dramatically in the developing world within a decade. Computer waste from India alone will grow by 500% by year 2020.

Achim Steiner, executive director of UNEP said “This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting up of large, efficient facilities in China.” He also added that, “China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector.”

Specialty materials group Umicore and the United Nations University, said that the United States is the biggest producer of e-waste, creating around 3 million metric tons a year.

China produces around 2.3 million metric tons domestically and is where a lot of the developed world’s e-waste is sent, EMPA said.

EMPA is the research institute for material science and technology of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.

The study predicted that mobile phone waste in China would be about seven times higher than 2007 levels by 2020, while in India it would be about 18 times higher.

I come to think that someday we’ll be throwing our e-Waste to another planet, Mars perhaps? As what we’ve seen in movies.

Photo Credit: StEP-EMPA

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