E-waste hurting the developing nations: Report

Posted by Green Keralam On 12:02:00 PM

Developing countries are accumulating mountains of hazardous e-waste, with serious consequences for the environment and public health unless they start preparing for safe recycling now, warned the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Sales of electronic products in countries like India and China and across continents such as Africa and Latin America are set to rise sharply in the next ten years, UNEP said in a new report about the problem.

The consequences could be disastrous unless action is stepped up to properly collect and recycle materials, the agency warned.

The UNEP report, "Recycling--from E-Waste to Resources," used data from 11 developing countries to estimate current and future e-waste generation, including old and dilapidated desk and laptop computers, printers, mobile phones, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, TV sets and  toys.

South Africa and China for example, the report predicts that by 2020 e-waste from old computers will have jumped by 200 to 400 percent from 2007 levels. In India e-waste will have grown five-fold.

By that same year in
China, e-waste from discarded mobile phones will be 7 times higher than 2007 levels and, in India, 18 times higher.

By 2020 e-waste from televisions will be 1.5 to 2 times higher in
China and India while in India e-waste from discarded refrigerators could triple.

Broken down by type of e-waste, the report estimates e-waste generation today as follows:

China: 500,000 tonnes from refrigerators, 1.3 million tonnes from TVs, 300,000 tonnes from personal computers.

India: over 100,000 tonnes from refrigerators, 275,000 tonnes from TVs, 56,300 tonnes from personal computers, 4,700 tonnes from printers and 1,700 tonnes from mobile phones.

Kenya: 11,400 tonnes from refrigerators, 2,800 tonnes from TVs, 2,500 tonnes from personal computers, 500 tonnes from printers, 150 tonnes from mobile phones.

The report recommends countries establish e-waste management centers of excellence, building on existing organizations working in the area of recycling and waste management.

Source: National Geographic Society