World’s electrical waste ‘costing $52bn a year’

Microwaves, toasters and vacuum cleaners are some of the electrical waste that’s costing the world around $52 billion (£35bn) every year. The amount of global e-waste – almost 60% of […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Microwaves, toasters and vacuum cleaners are some of the electrical waste that’s costing the world around $52 billion (£35bn) every year.

The amount of global e-waste – almost 60% of which was discarded kitchen, laundry and bathroom equipment – reached 41.8 million tonnes last year, according to the United Nation’s think tank.

That’s enough to form a line of trucks 23,000 kilometres long – or the distance from New York to Tokyo and back.

However, only around 16% were thought to have been recycled or made available for re-use, researchers at the United Nations University (UNU) said.

The report found the US and China produced the most e-waste overall – 32% of the world’s total.

UN Under-Secretary-General David Malone, Rector of UNU said: “Worldwide, e-waste constitutes a valuable ‘urban mine’ — a large potential reservoir of recyclable materials. At the same time, the hazardous content of e-waste constitutes a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care.”

Personal information and communication technology (ICT) devices such as mobile phones, computers and printers accounted for 7% of e-waste in 2014.