Citing a recently reported list of nations that lead the world in “e-waste dumping,” John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International (ERI), the nation’s leading recycler of electronic waste, describes the current situation as a “serious global wake-up call” for responsible electronic recycling.
According to the list, part of a recent report from the United Nations University, the United States and China contributed the most to last year’s record amounts of electronic waste. The United Nations also reported that overall, 41.8 million tons of e-waste were dumped around the globe in 2014, with only an estimated 6.5 million tons taken in for recycling. The United States led e-waste dumping with 7.1 million tons in 2014, ahead of China with 6.0 million. The remaining nations in the top five are Japan, Germany and India.
“Based on these latest statistics from United Nations University, electronic waste recycling is growing, but there is still an urgent need for improvement,” said Shegerian. “The fastest growing sector of the world’s waste stream today is e-waste, and it is growing at an exponential rate. Responsible recycling – when done properly – is proving to be the solution, but individuals, businesses and governments around the planet must step up and do the right thing when it comes to disposing of unwanted electronics. Frankly, it’s an embarrassment that the United States, a country where we have the most advanced processes for electronic recycling in the world, sits atop this list of nations that need to do better. It is more urgent than ever before to make sure your recycler is certified to ensure your electronics are properly dismantled, your data is effectively destroyed and all safety and environmental standards are met.”
Echoing Shegerian’s sentiments, the United Nations University report referred to the hazardous content of e-waste as constituting “a ‘toxic mine’ that must be managed with extreme care,” citing components such as lead and mercury, which are found in some discarded devices.
Earlier this year, ERI hosted and helped train guests from around the world as part of the United Nations University’s “Person in Port” program in conjunction with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Basel Convention Coordination Centre for Africa (BCCC) in Nigeria. These organizations are teaming with ERI to learn best practices in the effective and safe dismantling of e-waste, while also gathering information and reliable data on the import of used electronics and e-waste into Nigeria – one of the main countries through which e-waste flows.