Mountains and mountains of e-waste
Despite all the green awareness, despite all the talks of pollution and despite everything that needs to be done in order to bring it to everyone’s attention that humanity is living almost on the brink, still we keep producing heaps of harmful waste. In 2014, we managed to accumulate 41.8 tonnes of electrical and electronic waste which is a record amount of e-waste. The biggest per-capita wastes were generated from countries such as Norway and Denmark who are known for their environment consciousness.
In 2013, the total amount of e-waste generated was 39.8 tonnes but in 2014, we generated around 41.8 tonnes and if the trend continues at this level we are looking at 50 tonnes of e-waste generated by 2018.
Alarmingly, only less than 17% of the entire waste was properly recycled with the dump consisting mostly of washing machines, refrigerators and other domestic appliances which have reached their shelf life. Almost 60% of e-waste came from large and small kitchens, bathroom accessories and laundry appliances. According to the report compiled by the United Nations University, the UN’s educational and research branch, e-waste accumulated last year was equivalent of 1.15m heavy trucks, forming a line 23,000 km long.
Norway generated the most e-waste and their per-capita waste last year was 28.4Kg per person, followed by Switzerland at 26.3Kg, Iceland at 26.1Kg, Denmark at 24Kg and Britain complete the top 5 with per capita waste at 23.5Kg per inhabitant. Netherlands, Sweden, France, United States and Austria complete the top 10. Africa contributed the least amount of e-waste with 1.7Kg per person and a total of 1.9m tones of waste. In volume terms, most waste was generated by United States and China, followed by Japan, Germany and China.
$52bn worth of waste was recovered and recycled, including 300 tonnes of gold. The waste also consisted of 2.2 tonnes of harmful lead compounds as well as mercury, chromium and cadmium. 4,400 tonnes of waste consisting of harmful CFCs was also generated.