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Waste from discarded electronics piling up worldwide

Staff Writer |
The UN warned that waste from discarded electronics like mobile phones, laptops and refrigerators is piling up worldwide, and it urged far better recycling of the often hazardous rubbish.

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A full 44.7 million tonnes of so-called e-waste was generated around the world in 2016, up eight percent from two years earlier, according to a report from the UN's International Telecommunication Union, the UN University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association.

That's the equivalent of 4,500 Eiffel Towers, the report noted, adding that the number was expected to swell "significantly" over coming decades.

By 2021, the world will likely be cluttered with a full 52.2 million tonnes of such waste, which today consists mainly of fridges, washing machines and other domestic appliances, but also increasingly mobile phones and computers.

At the same time, this waste, which can pose serious risks to human health and the environment, is rarely recycled or properly discarded, with most of it ending up at dumpsites or in incinerators, according to the report.

Only 20 percent of all e-waste, or 8.9 tonnes, generated last year was documented as properly recycled, while the fate of a full 76 percent of all e-waste around the globe is unknown, Wednesday's report found.


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