International E-Waste Day has been developed by the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum, an international association of e-waste collection schemes on 14th October. It aims to create awareness among consumers about the importance of repairing or correctly disposing of their used appliances in order to increase re-use, recovery and recycling rates of e-waste.
What is e-waste and how it grows?
e-waste are described as discarded electrical or electronic devices. As electronic waste is the fastest-growing waste stream globally which it grows at around 3-4% per year, there is also a lack of consensus as to whether the term should apply to resale, reuse, and refurbishing industries, or only to the product that cannot be used for its intended purpose.
A record 53.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of electronic waste was generated worldwide in 2019, up 21% in just five years, according to the UN's Global E-waste Monitor 2020. It also estimated that the amount of e-waste generated will reach 74.7Mt by 2030, adding that the global amount of e-waste is increasing at almost 2Mt per year, making efforts to recycle unwanted electronics more important than ever.
However, the report expressed concerns that recycling activities are not keeping up with the amount of e-waste that people are generating each day. While recycling activities have grown to 1.8Mt since 2014, the total number of e-waste has also increased by 9.2Mt. Only 17.4% of global e-waste was collected and properly recycled in 2019, which means that 44.3 million metric tonnes of e-waste, valued at US $57 billion, were either placed in the landfill, burned or illegally traded and treated in a sub-standard way.
Our Concerns: Resources Vs Pollution
As the number grows, the main environmental concerns now are resource depletion and dangerous substances arising. Recovery of these materials would reduce the need to extract more raw materials for the manufacture of new products. If electrical and electronic products are disposed of in landfill sites, millions of tonnes of materials that could be recovered and reused for new products are being lost.
This results in the huge loss of valuable and critical raw materials from the supply chain and causes serious health, environmental and societal issues through illegal shipments of waste to developing countries. At the same time, informal processing of electronic waste in developing countries may cause serious health and pollution problems, though these countries are also most likely to reuse and repair electronics.
The reason why we are worried is that some electronic equipment and/or its components contain substances that are considered dangerous to the environment and human health if they are disposed of carelessly. Although these dangerous substances are usually only contained in small amounts, they have great potential for causing serious environmental damage.
Therefore, we urge everyone to look into this matter in a serious way. As we are now living in a technology era and the gadgets we use are supposed to provide us with convenience, but not pollution. We do not want to leave a world beyond repair to our next generation, do you? So do dispose of your e-waste in a correct way, you may check out the e-waste collector nearby for more understanding of the disposal process.
Check out some of the e-waste collectors in Penang at https://bit.ly/3m1pJYc or Ellusion on FB page to learn more about e-waste disposal.
*Note: Information is up to date and accurate at the time of posting.