New report points to huge increase in junked goods in Asian countries
16 January 2017
A new report from the United Nations University, points to the huge increase in the amount of electronics goods being junked in Asia. The five-year study revealed an average increase of 63 per cent in e-waste across 12 countries.
The increase is due to the proliferation of gadgets and devices in our everyday lives and many of them like smartphones, receiving constant iterative hardware updates. For a long time the waste coming from wealthier countries would be recycled in Asian factories to get a new lease on life. According to the UN report, as incomes in Asia rise, citizens were dumping their gear like the rest of the wasteful world.
The report points out that China's generation of e-waste more than doubled between 2010 and 2015, the period of the study and Hong Kong generated the highest amount of e-waste in Asia in 2015, an average of 21.7kg per person.
Singapore and Taiwan created a little over 19kg per person in 2015.
Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines generated the least amount of e-waste, with an average of about 1kg per person.
''For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern,'' Ruediger Kuehr, a co-author of the report and head of UNU's sustainable cycles program, said.
On average, e-waste in the 12 countries in the study had shot up by two thirds in the five years, totaling 12.3 million tons in 2015 alone.
"Consumers in Asia now replace their gadgets more frequently. In addition, many products are designed for low cost production, but not necessarily repair, refurbishment or easy recycling," said the study.
The study called on governments to enact specific laws for management of electronic waste or rigorously enforce existing legislation.
Only South Korea, Taiwan and Japan had long established recycling systems that worked on laws introduced in the 1990s.