UN report finds 50m tonnes of WEEE discarded every year

Written by: Jo Gallacher | Published:
Less than 20% of WEEE is recycled globally

Around 50m tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (WEEE) is discarded every year, says a new report launched at the World Economic Forum.

Seven UN entities and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched the joint report to call for a more joined-up approach to dealing with WEEE.

The report, A New Circular Vision for Electronics – Time for a Global Reboot, found less than 20% of WEEE is recycled with many working in e-waste management under harmful conditions to both health and environment.

It argued that material efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials will all be essential for future production.

To create a global circular economy, the report suggested using technology to create service business models, better product tracking and manufacturer or retail take-back programs.

This coincides with the launch of a $2m investment in formal e-waste recycling industry in Nigeria, which is expected to bring in over $13m in financing from the private sector.

This is thanks to a partnership between the Nigerian government, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and UN Environment and is one of many examples of new WEEE projects.

Peter Bakker, President and CEO of the WBCSD, said: “Global e-waste is the fastest growing waste stream and presents societal and environmental risk. This summary clearly lays out why we must act at scale, now, and collaborate between business, international organizations, governments and NGOs."

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