UN warns of E-waste spike in developing nations

April 01 , 2010 in Industry News

HIPPAOver the next decade, rapidly growing sales of consumer electronics in developing countries, such as China and India, will lead to ” the spectre of hazardous e-waste mountains with serious consequences for the environment and public health ,” according to a report released this week by The United Nations Environment Programme. The 120-page report, Recycling — From E-Waste To Resources, was compiled using data from 11 developing countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas.

The report finds that, in the coming decade, the volumes of e-waste created by, and sent to, developing countries is going to rise sharply, finding that, by 2020, “e-waste from old computers” will rise by 500 percent in India, while a 200-percent to-400 percent hike is expected in South Africa and China.

Additionally, scrap cell phones will rise by a factor of seven in China, by 2020, and by 18 times in India, by the same year. All told, the report’s authors estimate that “global e-waste generation” will grow by about 40 million tons a year.

The report also focuses on the resources that are to be found by this growing volume of e-scrap. “One person’s waste can be another’s raw material,” says Konrad Osterwalder, U.N. under-secretary general and rector of United Nations University (UNU). “The challenge of dealing with e-waste represents an important step in the transition to a green economy. This report outlines smart new technologies and mechanisms that, when combined with national and international policies, can transform waste into assets, creating new businesses with decent green jobs.”

The study was issued at a meeting of the Basel Convention and other world chemical authorities prior to UNEP’s Governing Council meeting in Bali, Indonesia. The report, co-authored by the EMPA (the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research), Umicore and UNU’s StEP (Solving the E-waste Problem), uses data from the following countries and regions: In Asia: China and India; in Africa: Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda; and, in the Americas: Brazil, Columbia, Mexico and Peru.

SecurShred’s end-of-life recycling process ensures that industry standards such as the EPA’s R2 Standard and the E-Stewards Program are followed.