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Growing problem of discarded electronic devices

Mountains of discarded smartphones, electronics raise health and environmental concerns across Asia , ABC News The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

Key points:

  • More than 12 million tonnes of waste dumped in 12 countries
  • Many countries lack laws governing discarded electronics, study finds
  • China identified as the biggest culprit, doubling its waste in five years

China was the biggest culprit, with its electronic waste more than doubling, according to a new study by the United Nations University.

But nearly every country in the region had massive increases between 2010 and 2015, including those least equipped to deal with the growing mountain of discarded smartphones, computers, TVs, air conditioners and other goods.

On average, electronic waste in the 12 countries in the study had increased by nearly two-thirds in five years, totalling 12.3 million tonnes in 2015 alone, according to the study……..

Asia as a whole is the biggest market for electronics and appliances, accounting for nearly half of global sales by volume, and produces the most waste.

Guiyu, a heavily-polluted rural town in China that specialises in dismantling consumer electronics, some of it exported from rich countries, has become synonymous with the costs of a throwaway high-tech world.

China has cleaned up Guiyu and other centres like it but the Basel Action Network, which brought Guiyu to international attention, said most of the dangerous practices continue in Guiyu, albeit concentrated within a new industrial park on its outskirts.

Ruediger Kuehr, one of the study’s authors, said the amount of waste being generated was higher than governments estimate, partly because of their narrower definitions, and should be a wake-up call to policymakers and consumers.

“We are all benefiting from the luxury of these electrical and electronic products to a certain extent, it makes our lives easier, sometimes more complicated,” he said.

“However if we want to continue like this we must be reusing the resources contained in electronic and electrical equipment.”

A smartphone, for example, uses more than half the elements in the periodic table, some of which are very rare, and in the longer-run will be exhausted without recycling, said Mr Kuehr. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-15/gadget-mountain-rising-in-asia-threatens-health-and-environment/8183908

January 16, 2017 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, RARE EARTHS

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