Report points to rising tide of e-waste

Global: Waste from obsolete electronics equipment is growing globally by around 40 million tonnes a year, with computer waste in India expected to increase five-fold between 2007 and 2020, according to a UN Environment Program report. The document predicts that, by 2020, e-waste - including old and discarded desk and lap-top computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions - will have increased by as much as 400% from 2007 levels in both China and South Africa.
‘This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting-up of large, efficient facilities in China,’ suggests UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner. ‘China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector.’ According to the report, the USA is the biggest producer of e-waste on around 3 million tonnes every year, followed by China on some 2.3 million tonnes. Despite having banned e-waste imports, China is said to remain a major e-waste dumping ground for developed countries. The report claims that, by 2020, e-waste from discarded mobile phones in China will be around seven times higher than 2007 levels, while in India it will be some 18 times higher.

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