The United Nations reported that humans discarded more than 50 million tons of electronic waste (e-waste) last year – an increase of 20% in just five years – making tech refuse the world’s fastest-growing waste problem.
Discarded smartphones, computers, white goods, and electronic car parts that are worth more than $55 billion (50 billion euros) were being wasted yearly.
The shorter lifespans of devices and lack of recycling infrastructure, alongside with over mining of more materials necessary to cater to customers with endless new products, led to an ever-growing e-waste problem.
Based on the report, Asia generated the highest volume of e-waste in 2019, with 24.9 million tonnes, followed by the Americas (13.1 million tonnes) and Europe (12 million tonnes), while Africa and Oceania generated just 2.9 million tonnes and 0.7 million tonnes, respectively.
Furthermore, e-waste contains several toxic substances known to be harmful to human health, U.N warned.
“Substantially greater efforts are urgently required to ensure smarter and more sustainable global production, consumption, and disposal of electrical and electronic equipment,” stressed David Malone, Director at the United Nations University and U.N. undersecretary-general.
“This report contributes mightily to the sense of urgency in turning around this dangerous global pattern.”