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Electronic Waste Poses Growing Risk to Environment, Human Health :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Electronic Waste Poses Growing Risk to Environment, Human Health

The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, released by International Telecommunication Union-ITU, the UN University UNU and the International Solid Waste Association ISWA, highlights increasing levels of e-waste and its improper and unsafe treatment and disposal through burning or at dumpsites.
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The growing volume of electronic waste, including discarded products with a battery or plug, such as mobile phones, laptops, televisions, refrigerators and electrical toys, poses a major threat to the environment and human health, an environmental watch report has warned.

The Global E-Waste Monitor 2017, released by International Telecommunication Union-ITU, the UN University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), highlights increasing levels of e-waste and its improper and unsafe treatment and disposal through burning or at dumpsites.

In 2016, 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste were generated, an increase of 3.3 million metric tonnes, or 8 per cent, from 2014. Experts foresee e-waste increasing a further 17 per cent to 52.2 million metric tonnes by 2021.

“Environmental protection is one of the three pillars of sustainable development […] E-waste management is an urgent issue in today's digitally dependent world, where use of electronic devices is ever increasing,” ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao said.

One of the authors, Rüdiger Kühr, says it's alarming that countries are not moving faster on recycling tonnes of e-wastes within their territories, a problem which starts at household level.

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He says anything with a plug and battery is fuelling the problem adding that consumers must consider the impact of their purchases on the environment and on human health.

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In 2016, only about 20 per cent, or 8.9 million metric tonnes, of all e-waste was recycled. “The Global E-waste Monitor serves as a valuable resource for governments developing their necessary management strategies, standards and policies to reduce the adverse health and environmental effects of e-waste,” Zhao added.

He said that With 53.6 per cent of global households now having Internet access, national e-waste policies and legislation play an important role governing the actions of stakeholders who are associated with e-waste.

Currently 66 per cent of the world population, living in 67 countries, is covered by national e-waste management laws, a significant increase from 44 per cent in 2014.

Low recycling rates can have a negative economic impact. In 2016, it was estimated that e-waste contained rich deposits of gold, silver, copper, platinum, palladium and other high value recoverable materials, whose total value is estimated at USD 55 billion, a figure exceeding the gross domestic product of most countries in the world.

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