Global E-waste Status

Global E-waste Status



The consumption of Electrical and Electronic Equipment (EEE) is strongly linked to widespread global economic development. EEE has become indispensable in modern societies and is enhancing living standards, but its production and usage can be very resource demanding, as such also illustrates a counter to that very improvement in living standards. Higher levels of disposable incomes, growing urbanization and mobility, and further industrialization in some parts of the world are leading to growing amounts of EEE. On average, the total weight (excluding photovoltaic panels) of global EEE consumption increases annually by 2.5 million metric tons (Mt). After its use, EEE is disposed of, generating a waste-stream that contains hazardous and valuable materials. This waste stream is referred to as e-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), a term used mainly in Europe (Forti et al., 2020).

Source: The Global E-waste Monitor 2020

Approximately 53.6 million metric tons (Mt) or 7.3 kg per capita of e-waste (excluding PV panels) was generated in 2019. It is projected that the amount of e-waste produced will exceed to 74Mt in 2030. Thus, the global quantity of e-waste is alarmingly increasing at the rate of almost 2 Mt per year. The global quantity of e-waste in 2019 is mainly comprised of Small equipment (17.4 Mt), Large equipment (13.1 Mt), and Temperature exchange equipment (10.8 Mt). Screens and monitors, Small IT and telecommunication equipment, and Lamps represent a smaller share of the e-waste generated in 2019: 6.7 Mt, 4.7 Mt, and 0.9 Mt, respectively. Since 2014, the e-waste categories that have been increasing the most (in terms of the total weight of e-waste generated) are the Temperature exchange equipment (with an annual average of 7%), Large equipment (+5%), and Lamps and Small equipment (+4%). This trend is driven by the growing consumption of these products in lower-income countries, where the products enhance living standards. Small IT and telecommunication equipment have been growing at a slower speed, and Screens and monitors have shown a slight decrease (-1%). This decline can be explained by the fact that, lately, heavy CRT monitors and screens have been replaced by lighter flat panel displays, resulting in a decrease of the total weight even as the number of pieces continues to grow (Forti et al., 2020).

In 2019, most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt), while the continent that generates the most in kg per capita in Europe (16.2 kg per capita). Europe is also the continent with the highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling rate (42.5%). In all other continents, the e-waste documented as formally collected and recycled is substantially lower than the estimated e-waste generated. Current statistics show that in 2019, Asia ranked second at 11.7%, the Americas and Oceania stood at 9.4% and 8.8%, respectively, while Africa ranked last at 0.9%. However, statistics can vary substantially across different regions as the consumption and disposal behaviour depends on a number of factors (e.g. income level, policy in place, the structure of the waste management system, etc.) (Forti et al., 2020).

As of October 2019, 71% of the world’s population was covered by a national e-waste policy, legislation, or regulation. Improvements have been made since 2014 when only 44% of the population was covered. The high coverage rate is affected by the fact that the most populous countries, such as China and India, have national legal instruments in place. However, this population coverage equates to only 78 of the 193 countries. Thus, less than half of all countries in the world are currently covered by policy, legislation, or regulation (Forti et al., 2020). 

Follow: The Global E-waste Monitor 2020 


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