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The "mountain" of waste electronic and electrical equipment discarded in 2021 will weigh more than 57 million tonnes, researchers have estimated.
As per reports shared by an international expert group dedicated to tackling the global problem of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), the waste generated is heavier than the Great Wall of China - the planet's heaviest artificial object.
The waste includes items such as mobile phones, fridges, kettles, televisions and electric toys or sports equipment.
"A tonne of discarded mobile phones is richer in gold than a tonne of gold ore," said Dr Ruediger Kuehr, director of the UN's Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) programme.
According to a 2019 report by the World Economic Forum, the world's electronic waste has a material value of $62.5 billion (£46 billion) - more than the GDP of most countries.
Globally, the amount of so-called e-waste generation is growing by two million tonnes every year. It is estimated that less than 20% is collected and recycled.
By making products with shorter lifespans and limited repair options, manufacturers have a major role to play in the increase of waste.
Consumers can also be reluctant to recycle their personal electronic equipment. In the UK, a 2019 study by the Royal Society of Chemistry found that as many as 40 million unused gadgets are languishing in our homes. That puts pressure on the supply of many valuable and rare elements.
Elements in smartphones that could run out in the next century:
Gallium: Used in medical thermometers, LEDs, solar panels, telescopes and has possible anti-cancer properties.
Arsenic: Used in fireworks, as a wood preserver.
Silver: Used in mirrors, reactive lenses that darken in sunlight, antibacterial clothing and gloves for use with touch-screens.
Indium: Used in transistors, microchips, fire-sprinkler systems, as a coating for ball-bearings in Formula One cars and solar panels.
Yttrium: Used in white LED lights, camera lenses and can be used to treat some cancers.
Tantalum: Used in surgical implants, electrodes for neon lights, turbine blades, rocket nozzles and nose caps for supersonic aircraft, hearing aids and pacemakers.
Here a collective efforts from Government and citizens is essential. Consumers need to be adequately informed and a convenient infrastructure should be easily available to them so that disposing of e-waste correctly becomes the social norm.
Multinational Companies, NGO's and Social Organisations need to promote this under various CSR activities and awareness drives.
Also recycling electronics, rather than throwing them away, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.