The value of electronic waste produced each year now totals $62 billion (£48bn), triple the value of all silver produced annually.
A new report from the World Economic Forum and the UN’s E-waste Coalition claims the world is on the brink of a major health and environmental crisis and predicts the annual amount of electronic waste produced will increase from 50 million tonnes today to 120 million tonnes by 2050.
Currently, only a fifth of the electronics and plastics thrown away are recycled, despite there being 100 times more gold in a tonne of mobile phones than in a tonne of gold ore.
In a move to combat the problem, the Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment have joined Dell, HP, Microsoft and Philips to launch a $15 million (£11.5bn) investment to create a formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria.
UN Environment Acting Executive Director Joyce Msuya: “A circular economy brings with it tremendous environmental and economic benefits for us all.
“Our planet’s survival will depend on how well we retain the value of products within the system by extending their life.”