Phones to be thrown away in 2022 (E-waste)
This year, the international waste electrical and electronic equipment will generate 5.3 billion mobile phones (WEEE)
Based on global trade data, its estimate highlights the growing environmental problem of “e-waste.”
According to research, many people keep old phones rather than recycling them.
Precious minerals that cannot be recovered from waste electronics, such as copper in wire or cobalt in rechargeable batteries, must be mined.
“People don’t realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and represent massive volumes on a global scale,” WEEE director general Pascal Leroy said.
There are an estimated 16 billion mobile phones in the world, with nearly a third of them no longer in use in Europe.
According to WEEE, the “mountain” of electrical and electronic waste, which includes everything from washing machines and toasters to tablet computers and global positioning system (GPS) devices, will reach 74 million tonnes per year by 2030.
The Royal Society of Chemistry launched a campaign earlier this year to promote the mining of e-waste to produce new products, highlighting how global conflict, including the war in Ukraine, threatens precious-metal supply chains.
“These devices offer many important resources that can be used in the production of new electronic devices or other equipment, such as wind turbines, electric car batteries, or solar panels – all of which are critical for the green, digital transition to low-carbon societies,” said Magdalena Charytanowicz of the WEEE.
It is one of the “fastest growing and most complex waste streams that affects both human health and the environment, as it can contain harmful substances,” according to the report.
According to Material Focus surveys, more than 20 million unused but working electrical items worth up to £5.63 billion are currently hoarded in UK homes.
It was also calculated that the average UK household could sell unwanted technology and earn approximately £200.