E-Waste Has Become a Global Concern Due to the Rapid Growth in Electronic Consumption

Tajammul Pangarkar
Tajammul Pangarkar

Updated · Oct 12, 2023

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According to E-waste Statistics, E-waste, short for electronic waste, refers to discarded electrical or electronic devices. It encompasses a wide range of electronic devices, including computers, mobile phones, televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and other consumer electronics.

With the rapid advancement of technology and increasing consumer demand for electronics, the generation of e-waste has become a significant global concern.

Editor’s Choice

  • Approximately 26,345,657 tons of electronic waste were thrown out worldwide till July 12, 2023.
  • Approximately 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually.
  • Without any changes, it is estimated that the annual e-waste could more than double by 2050.
  • In 2021, the world generated approximately 57 million metric tons of electronic waste, representing a record high.
  • The Asia-Pacific region generated the highest amount of e-waste in 2021, with an estimated 25 million metric tons, followed by the Americas and Europe.
  • The value of raw materials present in generated in 2021 was estimated to be approximately $57 billion, including gold, silver, copper, and other valuable metals.
  • By 2030, the global volume is projected to reach 74 million metric tons, indicating a continued upward trend in e-waste generation.

Global E-Waste Generation

  • Approximately 50 million tonnes of e-waste is generated annually.
  • In 2021, the world generated approximately 57 million metric tons of electronic waste, representing a record high.
  • By 2030, the global volume is projected to reach 74 million metric tons, indicating a continued upward trend in e-waste generation.
  • The Asia-Pacific region generated the highest amount in 2021, with an estimated 25 million metric tons.
  • The Americas generated a significant amount in 2021, following the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Europe also contributed significantly to global e-waste generation in 2021.
  • In 2021, China was the largest generator with approximately 10 million metric tons.
  • The United States was the second-largest generator of e-waste in 2021, with around 7 million metric tons.
  • India ranked third in e-waste generation in 2021, producing about 4 million metric tons.
  • Japan, the Russian Federation, Germany, and Brazil also featured among the top e-waste generators in 2021.

Global E-Waste Generation Trend from 2015 to 2025

E-Waste

Types of E-Waste

Mobile Phones

  • Approximately 1.6 billion mobile phones were sold globally in 2021.
  • The average lifespan of a mobile phone is around 2-3 years.
  • It is estimated that over 150 million mobile phones are discarded annually in the United States.
  • Only about 20% generated globally consists of mobile phones.
  • Mobile phones contain valuable metals such as gold, silver, and palladium, with an estimated value of $11 billion in e-waste annually.

Computers and Laptops

  • Around 250 million computers and laptops were sold worldwide in 2021.
  • The average lifespan of a computer is approximately 3-5 years.
  • In the United States, over 40 million computers become obsolete each year.
  • Only about 10-15% of e-waste from computers and laptops is properly recycled.
  • E-waste from computers and laptops contains hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, and cadmium.

Televisions

  • Approximately 220 million televisions were sold globally in 2021.
  • The average lifespan of television is around 7-8 years.
  • It is estimated that over 20 million televisions are disposed of annually in the United States.
  • Only about 17% of televisions are recycled globally.
  • Televisions contain valuable materials like copper, aluminum, and rare earth metals.

Printers and Scanners

  • Around 100 million printers and scanners were sold worldwide in 2021.
  • The average lifespan of a printer is approximately 5 years.
  • In the United States, over 30 million printers and scanners become obsolete each year.
  • E-waste from printers and scanners contains hazardous materials, including lead, brominated flame retardants, and PCBs.
  • Only about 15-20% of e-waste from printers and scanners is recycled globally.

Small Household Appliances

  • An estimated 1.4 billion small household appliances were sold globally in 2021.
  • Small appliances such as toasters, blenders, and coffee makers have an average lifespan of 5-10 years.
  • It is estimated that approximately 23 million small appliances are discarded annually in the United States.
  • Only about 17% of e-waste from small household appliances is recycled globally.
  • Small appliances contain various valuable and hazardous materials, including metals, plastics, and refrigerants.

Large Household Appliances

  • Approximately 260 million large household appliances were sold worldwide in 2021.
  • Large appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioners have an average lifespan of 10-15 years.
  • In the United States, over 18 million large appliances are discarded annually.
  • Only about 20% of large household appliances are properly recycled globally.
  • Large appliances contain materials like steel, copper, aluminum, and refrigerants.

Batteries

  • The global battery market was valued at $59 billion in 2020.
  • Approximately 6 billion primary batteries are sold annually worldwide.
  • Only about 5% of batteries are recycled globally.
  • Batteries contain hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and lithium.

Photovoltaic (PV) Panels

  • The global installation of PV panels reached approximately 160 GW in 2021.
  • PV panels have an average lifespan of 25-30 years.
  • It is estimated that over 90 million tons of PV panel waste will be generated by 2050.
  • PV panels contain materials like silicon, glass, aluminum, and small amounts of rare elements.

E-Waste Management and Policies

  • E-waste is growing at a rapid rate, with an estimated increase of 21% by 2030.
  • Only about 17.4% generated in 2021 was officially documented as recycled.
  • The total value of recoverable materials, such as gold, silver, and copper, in global e-waste in 2021 was estimated to be USD 57 billion.
  • Improper e-waste disposal can lead to health and environmental risks due to the presence of hazardous substances like lead, mercury, and cadmium.
  • The United States generated the most e-waste globally in 2021, with approximately 9.9 million metric tons.
  • Over 78 countries have implemented national legislation as of 2020, covering approximately 71% of the world’s population.
  • Many countries have set targets for collection and recycling. For example, the European Union aims to collect 65% of the generated annually by 2021.
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Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar

Tajammul Pangarkar is a CMO at Prudour Pvt Ltd. Tajammul longstanding experience in the fields of mobile technology and industry research is often reflected in his insightful body of work. His interest lies in understanding tech trends, dissecting mobile applications, and raising general awareness of technical know-how. He frequently contributes to numerous industry-specific magazines and forums. When he’s not ruminating about various happenings in the tech world, he can usually be found indulging in his next favorite interest - table tennis.