30 April 2015

UNU report reveals the ongoing rise of e-waste generated while yet too less people are covered by formal take-back systems

According to the Global E-waste Monitor 2014, lately issued by the United Nations University, the global quantity of e-waste generated has reached a new peak of around 41.8 million tons in 2014, whereas only around 6.5 million tons, say 15.5% was reported as formally treated by official take-back systems.
As for the rest, the UNU identifies three additional scenarios of possible disposal, while the respective quantities are largely unknown: Firstly, tons of end-of-life electronics end up in mixed residual waste. In the EU, for example, statistics claim this amount to be 8% of the total e-waste in the EU. Secondly, another notable amount of electronics in developed countries is supposed to be collected outside the official take-back systems. Informal collection and recycling is another optional third scenario, largely present in developing countries.

At the same time, the UNU states that the highest quality of recycling and safe disposal of e-waste takes place through official take-back programs while inappropriate recycling and disposal leads to an immense loss of secondary resources and has environmental and health impacts.

Comparing total volumes, most of the e-waste was generated in Asia, reaching 16 million tons in 2014. However, the per-inhabitant amount was only 3.7kg and thus only a quarter of the equivalent European quantity of 15.6kg per inhabitant. The lowest amount of e-waste was generated in Africa with a total of only 1.9 Million tons, or 1.7kg per inhabitant.

The full report can be downloaded from: http://i.unu.edu/media/ias.unu.edu-en/news/7916/Global-E-waste-Monitor-2014-small.pdf

The Reverse Logistics Group currently runs official take-back systems for electronic goods in Germany, Poland, Romania, the US, Peru, Mexico and Vietnam.