The world produced 44.7 million metric tons of electronic waste in 2016, according to a new United Nations report.
Global e-waste ― discarded electronic and electrical goods such as cellphones, laptops, televisions, refrigerators and electrical toys – rose 8 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to the Global E-waste Monitor 2017 report, published on Wednesday.
“One of the key findings is the amount of electronic waste is growing and that’s both in terms of absolute value as well as per inhabitant,” said Vanessa Grey of the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union, a co-author of the report.
The biggest e-waste culprits per capita were Australia and New Zealand, where about 38 pounds of waste were produced per person, and only 6 percent was formally collected and recycled.
E-waste is the world’s fastest growing waste stream, and the bad news is that its growth shows no sign of abating. The report predicted e-waste would increase an additional 17 percent by 2021, reaching 52.2 million metric tons.
“The metals that are extracted from e-waste are arguably the cleanest, lowest CO2-emitting, most fair and conflict-free metals in the world,” said Joost de Kluijver, director of the Netherlands-based social enterprise, Closing the Loop. “This leads to a huge opportunity: to produce items that use urban mined metals, instead of the much more polluting virgin mined metals.”