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Electrical Waste Mountain Reaches New Peak

April 20, 2015
Environmental Protection

A new report by the United Nations University (UNU), has revealed that the amount of ‘e-waste’ discarded by consumers is increasing by 2 million tons each year. In 2014, 41.8 million tons of electrical equipment was discarded with researchers warning the figure is likely to top 50 million tons by 2018 at the current rate.

Britain was fifth behind Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Denmark in a list of nations measured by per capita waste production. Amongst the waste every year is an estimated 4,400 tons of ozone depleting chemicals and 2.2 megatons of lead glass. Researchers found that less than 16% of waste is sent for recycling and reuse, the rest being landfilled. Large and small kitchen, bathroom and laundry appliances make up over 60% of items discarded.

David Malone, the UN under-secretary and rector of the Tokyo-based UNU, said: “Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ – a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials. At the same time, the hazardous content of e-waste constitutes a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care. There is a large portion of e-waste that is not being collected and treated in an environmentally sound manner.”

A recent study by waste charity Wrap, found that 23% of electric and electronic waste collected from municipal waste sites in the UK were still in good working order or required only minor repairs.

You can read a copy of the UNU report HERE