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Global E-Waste Crisis Calls for Urgent Action to Bridge Recycling Gaps – UN

By Faridat Salifu

The latest Global E-waste Monitor from the United Nations has delivered a stark warning: electronic waste generation is soaring far ahead of recycling efforts, with alarming implications for our planet and society.

The report, a joint effort by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), unveils shocking statistics: in 2022 alone, a record-breaking 62 million tonnes of e-waste were generated worldwide, equivalent to over 100,000 jumbo jets.

Despite this massive volume, less than a quarter of this waste was responsibly collected and recycled, leaving behind $62 billion worth of recoverable resources and escalating pollution risks globally.

E-waste, defined as any discarded product with a plug or battery, poses grave threats to human health and the environment due to toxic components like mercury. If current trends persist, experts predict annual e-waste generation will skyrocket to 82 million tonnes by 2030, compounding our existing challenges.

The report urgently highlights the need for robust e-waste management strategies, attributing the widening gap between waste generation and recycling efforts to factors like technological advancements, rising consumption rates, and limited repair options. Without decisive action, projected collection and recycling rates are set to plummet to just 20% by 2030.

Despite this dire outlook, there is hope. Scaling up e-waste collection and recycling efforts could yield significant economic and environmental benefits.

Achieving a 60% collection and recycling rate by 2030, experts estimate, could generate over $38 billion in benefits and substantially reduce health risks associated with improper e-waste disposal.

To address this crisis, experts advocate for stringent regulations, increased investment in recycling infrastructure, promotion of repair and reuse initiatives, and crackdowns on illegal e-waste shipments.

Failure to act not only undermines future digital progress but also squanders valuable economic opportunities and worsens environmental degradation.

As we navigate the dual challenges of combating climate change and advancing digital technologies, the imperative to address the e-waste crisis is undeniable.

Effective e-waste management isn’t just necessary—it’s essential for building a sustainable future for generations to come, protecting human health, preserving our environment, and unlocking economic potential.

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