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Awareness ‘key’ to tackle ever-growing e-scrap mountain

A record 53.6 million tonnes of e-scrap worth EUR 50 billion was generated across the planet in 2019. But less than 18% of this was officially documented as being recycled, with the rest going to landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way, claims the WEEE Forum.

This challenging data was presented by the organisation that represents producers to mark its third International E-Waste Day, which brings together stakeholders to promote the proper recycling and reuse of electronics.

The WEEE Forum expects e-scrap globally to reach 75 million tonnes by 2030. ‘E-scrap is the fastest growing domestic waste stream in the world. If we don’t continue to improve the way it is collected and treated it will continue to be a major environmental issue,’ says director general Pascal Leroy.

One key area in the quest for continual improvement is educating young people and the wider public; the more they know and understand, the more likely they are to make the correct decisions regarding their waste, believes Leroy. ‘This is the reason the 2020 edition of International E-Waste Day is dedicated to improving societal awareness.’

Mapping data centre e-scrap

For the occasion, the WEEE Forum has partnered with the International Telecommunications Union in drafting a report covering the rarely considered topic of ‘internet waste’ (e-waste arising from data centres, 5G connectivity infrastructure and the Internet of Things). To raise awareness among consumers and future generations, it has also developed a short film featuring children from around the world presenting e-scrap facts and urging people to pass on their discarded electronics.

Troublemaker Covid-19

More than 100 organisations from 50 countries worldwide take part in International E-Waste Day on 14 October. Public and face-to-face events are limited this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the WEEE Forum stresses, organisations are still taking the opportunity through online campaigns and events of reduced size to highlight the work they are doing to improve e-waste management.

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