Study claims 49.2 million tons of e-waste was produced globally in 2016

As we rely on more and more devices, there is the inevitable problem of producing electronic waste (e-waste). If you're unfamiliar with e-waste, it is any kind of electronic device that has been discarded. While some countries have a recycling program for these kinds of products, it's a labor-intensive process that is quite dangerous. The components from electronic devices often contain harmful matter that could lead to severe problems for those involved either directly or indirectly.

According to a new report by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) of the United Nations, it seems that only around 20 percent of electronics that were tossed in 2016 went through proper channels to be recycled. The total amount of electronic garbage thrown out is being estimated at nearly 44.7 million metric tons (49.2 tons), with the value of the raw materials that could have been extracted estimated at around $55 billion.

The breakdown of e-waste recycling will vary by country but the trend is moving upwards, with about a four percent increase expected every year. The United States produces 14 percent of the world's e-waste and recycles less than 25 percent of it. When you compare that to China, who produces around 16 percent of the world's waste and recycles about 18 percent of it this is quite astonishing considering that the U.S. has around 325 million people to China's roughly 1.4 billion.

E-waste is not something new, but there are more regions committed to recycling, with new countries being added year after year. Hopefully, the combined effort of the world can improve the e-waste recycling numbers over time.

Source: United Nations (PDF) via Ars Technica

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