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As innovation and lower costs drive increased access to electronic devices, electronic waste is fast reaching unprecedented levels.

According to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), electronic waste (e-waste) is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world.

The report, which was unpacked WEF 2019 in Davos, Switzerland recently, showed that the world produces more electronic waste every year than the weight of all commercial jet planes ever built.

“It is estimated this waste stream reached 48.5 million tonnes in 2018. Globally, society only deals with 20% of e-waste appropriately and there is little data on what happens to the rest, which for the most part ends up in landfill, or is disposed of by informal workers in poor conditions,” the report  notes.

This has become a major issue for Africa, in particular, which has become a ‘dumping site’ for e-waste. “The illegal movement of e-waste from developed countries to developing countries is a major global challenge,” the report notes.

Combating e-waste

In effort to combat the growing problem of e-waste and the challenges associated with the incorrect and illegal disposal of this hazardous waste stream, 10 global companies have pledged to take back the electronic waste that stems from their products.

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) pledged $2 million towards the fight against e-waste and also announced a partnership with the government of Nigeria, UN Environment, Dell, HP, Microsoft, and Philips.

In addition the GEF’s partners are planning to raise another $13 million from the private sector.

*Don’t miss the full feature on e-waste in the February edition of ReSource magazine.

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