Electronic Waste Problem to Increase a Dramatic 1/3 by 2017

E-waste is on the rise and the impending result will impact us all.

According to a USA Today article referencing a UN Study, “The mountain of refrigerators, cellphones, TV sets and other electrical waste disposed of annually worldwide is forecast to grow by a third by 2017.” In 2012 there was 53.9 million tons, and this forecast will bring that number to 72.09 million tons in 2017. Findings were based on estimates of product life along with actual data regarding discarded products in several countries.

The United States was the number one contributor to e-waste, followed by China. These are frightening numbers and this e-waste problem must be addressed through initiatives and legislation. Fortunately steps are being taken in a number of areas to address this growing problem.

The Environmental protection agency is collaborating with “Solving the E-Waste Problem” (“StEP”) to focus on this issue. StEP has published a world-wide map which drills down on country by country data referencing equipment on the market yielding e-waste. This information is eye-opening. StEP has set up an initiative with five task forces to address growing e-waste concerns. By addressing policy, redesign, reuse, recycle and capacity building, analysis is done and recommendations and action can be taken to ultimately provide solutions to this mounting problem.

In addition, while laws vary by country, legislation was introduced in the U.S. to address the export of e-waste concern. The Responsible Electronics Recycling Act of 2013 (RERA) would make it illegal to send e-waste from the U.S. to developing nations.

As our society continues to focus on upgrading consumer technology more waste will be generated. All of our efforts must be stepped-up to recycle properly. We need a continued focus by organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, StEP, IT asset disposal providers, electronic waste recycling companies, and government agencies to set in motion recommendations, programs and legislation so as a global community we can reduce the harms of the drastic increase of waste generation forecasted to take place by 2017.

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