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UN sees the rising scourge of e-waste as a catastrophe for the environment

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In a staggering revelation, the UN announced on Wednesday that the world had discarded an unprecedented number of smartphones, televisions, and other electrical devices in 2022. The UN warns that this avalanche of dumped gadgets is polluting the planet and posing a significant environmental threat.

Less than one-quarter of the 62 million tonnes of e-waste produced in 2022 was recycled, resulting in heavy metals, plastics and toxic chemicals leaking from junked devices.

“This is not just an environmental catastrophe,” Kees Balde, lead author of the latest Global E-waste Monitor, emphasized. “It’s a ticking health time bomb, particularly in poorer countries where a significant amount of e-waste is shipped from wealthier parts of the globe.”

Contrary to popular belief, the UN estimates the value of metals in all these discarded gadgets to be a staggering $91 billion. However, less than one-third of this potential wealth is recovered, with the rest lost when e-waste is burned, thrown in landfills or improperly recycled. This highlights the immense economic potential within our e-waste, waiting to be harnessed.

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