With only 20% of the electronics and plastics formally recycled each year, this looming health and environmental catastrophe also represents a unique $62 billion economic opportunity. (AP)
With only 20% of the electronics and plastics formally recycled each year, this looming health and environmental catastrophe also represents a unique $62 billion economic opportunity. (AP)

Electronic waste produced every year weighs more than all airlines ever built

  • The amount of electronic waste produced every year is set to grow to 120 million tonnes by 2050 from 50 million tonnes currently: WEF report
  • At a global level, seven UN entities have come together, supported by the WEF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to better address the e-waste challenge

Davos: Indicating a major health and environmental crisis, the amount of electronic waste produced every year is set to grow to 120 million tonnes by 2050 from 50 million tonnes currently — which already weighs more than all the commercial planes ever built, a report said.

In the report released here in collaboration with the UN-E-Waste Coalition, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said the value of electronic waste produced every year is a staggering $62 billion already, which is worth three times the total silver production.

It also said there is 100 times more gold in a tonne of mobile phones than in a tonne of gold ore.

The report said the world is on the brink of a major health and environmental crisis, as the annual amount of electronic waste produced each year looks set to grow further to 120 million tonnes by 2050.

With only 20% of the electronics and plastics formally recycled each year, this looming health and environmental catastrophe also represents a unique $62 billion economic opportunity, the report said.

To safeguard the environment, protect human health and deliver sustainable, inclusive growth, the Nigerian government, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment have joined Dell, HP, Microsoft and Philips to launch a $15 million investment to create a formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria.

The partnership is convened on the World Economic Forum's Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy.

Funding comprises a $2 million GEF investment, which will be leveraged for an additional $13 million private-sector co-financing. With 100,000 people estimated to be informally working in the e-waste sector in Nigeria alone, the investment will not only unlock economic growth, but also provide safe and decent employment for workers.

At a global level, seven UN entities have come together, supported by the WEF and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to better address the e-waste challenge.

In the joint report, they called for a new vision for electronics based on the circular economy, and the need for collaboration with major brands, small and medium-sized enterprises, academia, trade unions, civil society and associations in a deliberative process to change the entire system.

Another report by the WEF in collaboration with Accenture Strategy also outlined a future in which Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies provide a tool to unlock the value of e-waste. This visualises an "internet of materials" that could lead to better product tracking, take-back and recycling.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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