Over £8 billion worth of essential raw materials is recoverable from the annual amount of “invisible e-waste” discarded, a study organised by The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum finds.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum, which organises International E-Waste Day, commissioned the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) to calculate the annual quantities of “invisible” e-waste items in millions of kilograms, in millions of pieces, and in kg and pieces per capita.
According to the findings, invisible e-waste – such as unused cables, electronic toys, LED-decorated novelty clothes, power tools, and vaping devices, which are often not recognised by consumers as e-waste – amounts to 9 billion kg, one-sixth of all e-waste worldwide.
The study also found that 7.3 billion e-toys, such as car racing sets, talking dolls, and drones, are now discarded annually. The e-toy category makes up around 3.2 billion kg, 35%, of annual invisible e-waste.
We need to change that and raising awareness is a large part of the answer.
Other findings were that 844 million vaping devices and 950 million kg of cables containing copper were discarded last year.
Invisible e-waste is the focus of the 6th annual International E-Waste Day on Saturday, 14 October.
Magdalena Charytanowicz of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum, commented: “A significant amount of electronic waste is hidden in plain sight. Sadly, invisible e-waste often falls under the recycling radar of those disposing of them because they are not seen as e-waste.
“We need to change that and raising awareness is a large part of the answer. Much effort and progress was made around plastic pollution and people are now more conscious about it, especially with a UN treaty on plastics in the works by 2024. We hope the same will occur in the e-waste field.”