The Global E-Waste Monitor

Anne-Liese Heinichen

Why you should read it: While many reports have cited the impact that e-waste has on the environment, people and children who mishandle the waste and the re-introduction of waste into the supply chain many times as counterfeit parts, this report is the first to attempt to measure the volume of waste using harmonized measurement methods on a global-scale.

ERAI Insight: Although the effect that e-waste has had on the industry is well-documented, the scope of the problem had not been well-defined. According to this report, in 2014 a total of 41.8 metric tons (Mt) of e-waste was generated, one-third of which originated from just two countries – USA and China. This number is expected to increase to 49.8 Mt by 2018 with an annual growth of 4-5 percent, as populations expand and technology evolves. Stronger take-back legislation is required to ensure that electronic equipment is disposed of and recycled in more efficient ways as it is estimated that less than one-sixth of the total waste was properly recycled or reused. In precious metals alone (e.g. gold, silver, palladium), an estimated $52 billion is discarded, along with sizeable amounts of toxins (e.g. CFCs, cadmium, mercury).