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Future US exports of e-waste may end up in India, UN warns
Source: Times of India, Date: , 2013
average American was responsible for generating 29.8 kg of hi-tech trash last
year - six times higher than China's per capita figure of 5.4 kg.
A Briton on the other hand produced nearly 22 kg
of e-waste by dumping their TVs, computers and mobile phones - seven times higher
than an average Indian who generated nearly 3 kg of electronic trash last year
for every person in its population.
India generated 4362 metric kilo tonne of
electrical and electronic equipment (EEE — anything with a battery or a cord)
which ultimately resulted in 2751 metric kilo tonne of e-waste containing toxic
substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and flame retardants.
UN has warned that it is likely that future US
exports of e-waste will end up in India, as the only other glass-to-glass
furnaces in the world (in China and Malaysia) are scheduled to close by 2013.
The UN's first ever e-waste world map released
on Saturday shows that almost 48.9 million metric tons of used electrical and
electronic products was produced last year — an average of 7 kg for each of the
world's 7 billion people.
This, UN says created a flood of e-waste.
Mobile phones constitute the biggest component
in units - with an estimated 120 million collected - while TVs and computer
monitors made up a major proportion of the total weight.
Based on current trends, the UN has now
predicted that, by 2017, the total annual volume of e-waste will be 33% higher
at 65.4 million tons, the weight equivalent of almost 200 Empire State
Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza.
What has emerged as most worrying is the trend
of developing countries becoming fertile dumping grounds of e-waste for
Every day worldwide, an estimated 123,000 metric
tonnes of damaged, obsolete or simply unwanted electrical and electronic
devices are discarded and become e-waste.
In another startling forecast, UN says that by
2017, all of that year's end-of-life refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones,
computers, monitors, e-toys and other products with a battery or electrical
cord worldwide could fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway
straddling three quarters of the Equator.
According to the United Nations University's (UNU) StEP
Initiative (Solving the
E-Waste Problem Initiative), in 2012 China and the US topped the world's totals
in market volume of EEE and e-waste. China put the highest volume of EEE on the
market in 2012 - 11.1 million tons, followed by the US at 10 million tons.
Those positions were reversed when it came to
the total volume of e-waste generated per year, there being more products put
on the market in the past in the US which are now likely to be retired. Here
the US had the world's highest figure of 9.4 million tons and China generated
the second highest e-waste total of 7.3 million tons.
However, the world's two biggest economies were
far apart when it came to the amount of annually e-waste per person.
"Although there is ample information about
the negative environmental and health impacts of primitive e-waste recycling
methods, the lack of comprehensive data has made it hard to grasp the full
magnitude of the problem," says Ruediger Kuehr of United Nations
University and executive secretary of the StEP Initiative.
"We believe that this constantly updated,
map-linked database showing e-waste volume by country together with legal texts
will help lead to better awareness and policy making at the public and private
Britain estimates that 10 million tons of
electronic products will be bought in the UK in the next six years alone.
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