The Global E-waste Statistics Partnership, of which the United Nations University (UNU) is a founding member, has launched globalewaste.org, an open source portal that visualises e-waste data and statistics globally, by region and by country.
Discarded equipment such as phones, laptops, refrigerators, sensors, and TVs ― collectively referred to as e-waste ― contain substances that pose substantial environmental and health risks, especially if inadequately treated or improperly disposed of.
Properly handled through appropriate recycling chains and methods, however, e-waste presents an opportunity worth over US$62.5 billion per year, with the potential of creating millions of decent new jobs worldwide, according to the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership.
Globalewaste.org offers e-waste data from Global and Regional E-waste Monitors for most countries, including the amount of e-waste generated in total and per capita and discarded prior to any collection, reuse, treatment, or export; the amount of e-waste formally collected in total and per capita and regulated by environmental protection laws specifically designed for e-waste; and e-waste legislation by country, where applicable.
Latest estimates (see The Global E-waste Monitor 2017) show that the world now discards approximately 50 million tonnes of e-waste per year, greater in weight than all of the commercial airliners ever made or enough Eiffel towers to fill Manhattan. Only 20% is formally recycled.
We need to develop innovative e-waste policies, establish and monitor waste-reduction targets, and forge new multi-stakeholder partnerships for action including with the private sector
As an example of the kind of comparative data available via the globalewaste.org interactive map: In 2016, Japan generated 2,139 kilotonnes of e-waste, only 26% of which was formally collected.
On a per capita average basis, each Japanese resident discarded 16.9 kilograms of e-waste – less than the USA and UK average levels (19.4 kg and 24.9 kg per person, respectively), but far above the Asian per capita average of 4.2 kg.
The portal also details how countries can be supported through capacity building activities of the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership to enhance e-waste data collection.
The Global E-waste Statistics Partnership was founded in 2017 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), United Nations University (represented by the UNU Vice-Rectorate in Europe Sustainable Cycles Programme), and International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).
“Our research and advocacy on sustainable e-waste practices are helping to place this issue on the global political agenda, but more action is needed to stem the ever-increasing tide of e-waste”, said United Nations Under-Secretary-General David Malone, Rector of the United Nations University.
“We need to develop innovative e-waste policies, establish and monitor waste-reduction targets, and forge new multi-stakeholder partnerships for action including with the private sector. We hope the Global E-waste Statistics Partnership and the new interactive online platform will support these needed next steps.”
Antonis Mavropoulos, President of the International Solid Waste Association said: “ISWA welcomes the new globalewaste.org portal as the next step for the development and the increase of the added value of the Global E-Waste Statistics Partnership.
“We hope that this new initiative will further stimulate the on-going efforts to tackle the e-waste challenge and drive resource recovery policies and activities towards a circular economy in the IT industry.”