WHAT IS E-WASTE?
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), E-waste, electronic waste and e-scrap are terms often used to describe used electronics that are nearing the end of their useful life, and are discarded, donated or left at a recycling facility.
Environmental agencies worldwide recognizes the inherent value of these materials that can be reused, refurbished or recycled to minimize the actual waste that might end up in a landfill or improperly disposed in an unprotected dump.
WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS?
It is estimated that, in 2017, E-waste discarded by businesses and consumers will total nearly 48 million tons or around 6.5 kilograms per person worldwide. Only around 12.5 percent of these electronics are collected for recycling, with the remainder disposed of primarily in landfills, where the metal components cannot be recovered.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS?
Without clearly defined rules and methodology, improper practices could result in negative impacts on the public health and the environment. There have been serious concerns about unsafe handling of used electronics and e-waste, in developing countries, that results in harm to human health as well as the environment. For example, there are problems with open-air burning and acid baths being used to recover valuable materials from electronic components, which expose workers to harmful substances. There are also numerous issues with toxic materials leaching into the soil. If uncontrolled, these practices could expose the population to high levels of contaminants such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic.