At least $10bn (£7.9bn) worth of gold, platinum and other precious metals are dumped every year in the growing mountain of electronic waste that is polluting the planet, according to a new UN report. E-waste often contains materials like the ones mentioned above and other (less fancy) materials like iron and copper. Most of these materials are burned or dumped instead of being collected for recycling.
“E-waste is a very big problem because the amount is growing at a very rapid pace each year, and the level of recycling is just not keeping up pace,” says Kees Baldé at the UN University, based in Bonn, and an author of report. “It’s important to put a price on the pollution – at the moment it is simply free to pollute.”
A record 54m tonnes of “e-waste” was generated worldwide in 2019, up 21% in five years, the UN’s Global E-waste Monitor report found. The 2019 figure is equivalent to 7.3kg for every man, woman and child on Earth, though use is concentrated in richer nations. The amount of e-waste is rising three times faster than the world’s population, and only 17% of it was recycled in 2019.
The report blames lack of regulation and the short lifespan of products that are hard or impossible to repair.
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Source: The Guardian