IT & Systems Management

Infoshot: Global eWaste

The United Nations University has just released a new report, The Global E-waste Monitor 2014: Quantities, Flows and Resources, looking at global eWaste. The amount of discarded electrical and electronic equipment reached a record 41.8 million tonnes in 2014, with IT devices – including phones, personal computers, and printers — accounting for 7% [or 2.9 million tonnes] of that figure.

The technology industry’s habit for rapid obsolescence has seen that figure rise by around 2 million tonnes for the last five years and predicted to rise 20% to almost 50 million by 2018. Shockingly, only a sixth of the world’s eWaste is estimated to be properly recycled or made available for reuse.

The report labels this pile of discarded washing machines and computer both a gold mine and a toxic hazard. This discarded material contains some 16.5 million tonnes of iron, 1.9 million tonnes of copper, 1.4 million tonnes of precious metals [gold, silver, palladium] that together have a combined estimated value of $52 billion. There’s also nearly 300,000 tonnes of batteries to contend with, along with large amounts of toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, chromium and lead; which can all cause serious harm to anyone exposed.



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Dan Swinhoe

Dan is a journalist at CSO Online. Previously he was Senior Staff Writer at IDG Connect.

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