E-waste is a growing problem around the world. Many countries including the US and the United Kingdom would often just ship their waste to another country such as China. As of 2016, the world had accumulated 49 million tons of e-waste that was discarded and not recycled (that’s equivalent to about 4,500 Eiffel Towers) and that number was estimated to grow to more than 60 million tons by 2021. While the push for secure recyclers has grown in the US, how to developing countries deal with e-waste?
Many developing countries have begun to create small, informal recycling channels. Most of the e-waste that gets sent to other countries is recyclable and many of the residents have taken it upon themselves to recycle what they can. However, this doesn’t take into consideration what to do with the small amounts of toxic products that are held within the e-waste.
As a result, while these informal recycling channels are helpful, they are not taking into consideration the larger impact on public health and the environment. In order to manage e-waste on such a large scale, the framework and industrial infrastructure must also be created. With the infrastructure for large scale recycling centers that can properly recycle e-waste, it can not only create jobs, it will also hopefully lead to more e-waste being recycled around the world.