The scale of global e-waste

Today is International e-waste day, which aims to raise awareness of waste electronics. It’s a growing problem, as more people buy phones, laptops and other gadgets, and as they are replaced at a faster rate.

If you average the problem across the global population, 7.6kg of e-waste is created every year for every person on the planet – though of course there are inequalities within that. The UK is among the worst in the world, creating 23kg of e-waste per person per year – second only to Norway. That’s something we need to take some responsibility for, not least because e-waste so often becomes an environmental justice issue.

There are system-wide things we should be doing here to encourage a circular economy. Repair standards are one of those, as I wrote about last week with the ten year smartphone initiative. Rules to prevent planned obsolescence, as France has pioneered. At the personal level, we should try to make things last, repair where we can, and ensure that our gadgets are recycled properly.

MusicMagpie, which re-sells secondhand electronics, has created a series of visuals to help explore the scale of e-waste, and I’ll leave you with their video:


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