Business News of 2013-12-18

UN warns of growing electronic waste

The United Nations has warned about the flood of toxic electronic waste in the world, as the global annual volume of so-called E-waste is expected to grow by 33 percent in just five years, posing great challenges for sorting and recycling.

The UN published a report on Sunday saying by the end of 2017 the total annual volume from electronic and electrical devices, including refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers and toys, will reach 65.4 million tons.

This amount “could fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway straddling three-quarters of the Equator,” said Solving the E-Waste Problem Initiative, a partnership of UN organizations, grassroots groups and industry.

Last year, some 48.9 million tons of E-waste were produced, which is an average of seven kilograms (15.4 pounds) for each of the seven billion people on the planet, the initiative said.

According to the UN report, the United States is the worst offender among all nations, with an annual of 9.4 million tons of E-waste followed by China with 7.3 million tons a year.

When analyzing the amount of E-waste per capita, the United States was even further ahead, with almost 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of electronic waste for China's 5.4 kilograms (12 pounds).

Furthermore, the report also warned that E-waste is often illegally dumped in poorer countries, such as Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan and Vietnam, where there are no effective recycling facilities.

The failure to properly recycle electronic waste causes land, water and air contamination as well as shortages of rare-earth minerals to make future generations of electronic devices.