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Sunday, October 1, 2023

E-waste: Five billion phones to be thrown away in 2022

This year, 5.3 billion mobile phones will be thrown away the international waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) forum says.

Its estimate, based on global trade data, highlights the growing environmental problem of “e-waste”.

Many people keep old phones, rather than recycling them, research suggests.

Precious minerals not extracted from waste electronics, such as the copper in wire or the cobalt in rechargeable batteries, have to be mined.

  • Mine e-waste, not the Earth, say scientists
  • Millions of old gadgets ‘stockpiled in drawers’

“People tend not to realise that all these seemingly insignificant items have a lot of value and together at a global level represent massive volumes,” WEEE director general Pascal Leroy said.

There are an estimated 16 billion mobile phones worldwide – and in Europe, almost a third are no longer in use.

The WEEE says its research shows the “mountain” of electrical and electronic waste – from washing machines and toasters to tablet computers and global positioning system (GPS) devices – will grow to 74 million tonnes a year by 2030.

Earlier this year, the Royal Society of Chemistry launched a campaign promoting the mining of e-waste to produce new products, highlighting global conflict, including the war in Ukraine, threatens precious-metal supply chains.

Magdalena Charytanowicz, of the WEEE, said: “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 crucial for the green, digital transition to low-carbon societies.”

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