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How much of this e-waste is recycled in the world? How difficult it is to formalize this huge inform


The global e-waste problem is more severe than it seems. Latest estimates show that the world now discards approximately 50 million tons of e-waste per year (an amount greater in weight than all of the commercial airliners ever made) of which only about 20% is formally recycled, the rest is usually discarded in landfills or are treated in a crude way, exposing e-waste workers to toxic and carcinogenic substances like lead, cadmium, and mercury

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) report “As many as 12.9 million women are working in the informal waste sector, which potentially exposes them to toxic e-waste and puts them and their unborn children at risk “ Meanwhile more than 18 million children and adolescents, some as young as 5 years of age, are actively engaged in the informal industrial sector, of which waste processing is a sub-sector. Children are often engaged by parents or caregivers in e-waste recycling because their small hands are more dexterous than those of adults. Other children live, go to school and play near e-waste recycling centres where high levels of toxic chemicals, mostly lead and mercury, can damage their intellectual abilities

Understanding the trend of e-waste generation and collection, an example of the kind of comparative data available via the portal’s interactive map: In 2016, Japan generated 2,139 Metric Tons of e-waste, only 26% of which was formally collected. On a per capita average basis, each Japanese resident discarded 16.9 kilograms of e-waste – less than the average levels of the USA and Germany (19.4 kg and 22.8 kg per person, respectively), but far above the Asian per capita average of 4.2 kg.

In European Union countries (EU28), Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland, the target is achieved per country relative to the target achieved by using the EEE POM calculation methodology. If we read the detailed data per country, there are three countries that reach the EEE POM collection target of 65%: Switzerland at a 68% collection rate, Bulgaria at 79%, and Croatia at 82%. Below them, a large group of countries follows, from Hungary at a 61% collection rate to Slovenia at 40%. The three countries with the lowest collection rates are Romania, Cyprus, and Malta as per the “Global E-waste org publications”

In the same report “as per the collection rate against the WEEE Generated target, none of the countries could reach the WEEE Generated target of 85%. The countries with the three highest collection rates are Croatia with 78%, Poland with 77%, and Norway with 72%.”

Now the questions come as to what are the factors affecting WEEE collection?

As we go deeper, understanding the reasons of these unfulfilled collection targets by the developed countries are number one they lack the standard process and policies for collection of 100% e-waste, also if we enumerate other factors which also hinders the smooth collection of the WEEE are specified as a large share of the WEEE flows are undocumented, and the most important flows in terms of physical quantities are WEEE mixed in metal scrap, it makes it very difficult to pick them if the percentage of WEEE is lesser then the Metal, say somewhere around 10-20%, the other factor can be the presence of WEEE in waste bins i.e. if we lack in basic awareness or importance of source segregation then also it becomes very cumbersome for the waste pickers to pick the WEEE in formal picking stream, then we have WEEE exports and exports of used-EEE, there are legal and illegal routes for this as e-waste can give you very good return if it is refurbished, so it is usually transported from developed countries to the developing countries with earns very good returns to the trader.

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