New open-source portal puts e-waste on the map
An international research group is putting the world’s e-waste on the map in the hopes it will lead to better environmental protection laws and recycling practices.
According to the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership, the world dumps around 50 million metric tonnes of e-waste — such as laptops, phones, fridges and TVs — per year. Of this, only 20% is recycled.
As it breaks down, e-waste can leach hazardous substances, such as flame retardants, plasticisers, heavy metals and halogens into the environment, putting it and human health at risk.
To draw attention to this rapidly growing problem, the partnership — comprising the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) — has launched globalewaste.org, a website that shows e-waste data and legislation by country and region, as well as information on how countries can increase their data collection.
“Reliable and official data and statistics on e-waste provide the foundation for sound e-waste legislation and management at the national level,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.
United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Rector of the United Nations University David Malone added: “Our research and advocacy on sustainable e-waste practices are helping to place this issue on the global political agenda, but more action is needed to stem the ever-increasing tide of e-waste.
“We need to develop innovative e-waste policies, establish and monitor waste-reduction targets and forge new multi-stakeholder partnerships for action including with the private sector. We hope the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership and the new interactive online platform will support these needed next steps.”
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