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Why we need World E-waste Day

The world generated an estimated 50 million tonnes of electronic scrap last year, according tot he WEEE Forum. The recycling organisation highlights this figure following the second International E-Waste Day.

You may have heard; yesterday marked the annual ‘holiday’ dedicated to creating awareness about proper e-scrap management. Such a special day is not a luxury, so urges the WEEE Forum, based in Brussels. Consumers and businesses buy more and more products almost every year.

Around half of the 50 million tonnes of e-waste produced in 2018 consisted of personal devices; including laptops, smartphones, tablets, computers and televisions. The rest represents mostly large household appliances and cooling equipment, the WEEE Forum adds.

‘Only 20% of the total gets recycled each year,’ it contends. Which means that 40 million tonnes of e-waste are either placed in landfill, burned or illegally traded.’

In the case of illegal exports, the products are handled using ‘sub-standard’ practices. The fact is that over 65% of the world’s population is covered by e-waste legislation.  

Both the WEEE Forum and the European Electronics Recyclers Association (EERA) would like to see a boost in e-scrap collection performance. In Europe alone, up to 10 million tonnes of e-scrap is generated every year – two thirds of this is said to ‘dissapear’.

It is interesting to note that Oceania generates the most e-scrap, at 17.3kg per capita each year. The lowest amount stems from Africa, which generates around 1.9kg per capita each year.

But there are reasons to be optimistic, says Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum. Consumers are more welcoming of refurbished products, there are more repair solutions out there (such as the iFixit platform), while recycling has become an important topic at schools and universities in developed countries.

‘There are many countries worldwide that are currently in the process of implementing e-waste legislation,’ Leroy goes on to state. ‘We are therefore very pleased to have participants from six continents involved in this year’s International E-Waste Day.’

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