According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), electronic waste is the largest and fastest growing waste stream in the UK as we create about 1.4 million tonnes of waste a year, which is evident from the overflowing landfills dotted throughout the country, full of unwanted electrical goods.
Though this comes as no huge surprise considering we live in such a disposable society now where technology is constantly developing and improving so is therefore being replaced almost as soon as it is created. In 2012, consumers around the world threw away 48.9 million tonnes of electrical and electronic goods and it seems keeping up with the supply and demand for these goods has come to a head and resulted in a global increase in e-waste (electronic waste) that is predicted to each 65.4 million tonnes a year by 2017!
These shocking statistics have been brought to light by a recent study taken by the Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) organisation. This is based on the current quantities of electrical equipment sold across the globe and the amount of e-waste that is created throughout the world.
This study has revealed that:
- USA produces 9.4 million tonnes of e-waste (the worst in the world)
- China produces 7.3 million tonnes of e-waste (second in the world)
- Britain produces 1.4 million tonnes of e-waste (sixth in the world)
Electrical goods are dangerous if they’re not recycled properly, but as this can prove rather costly the government are struggling to deal with such vast quantities of e-waste that they have resorted to transporting them abroad to poorer, underdeveloped countries. For instance out of the USA’s 9.4 million tonnes of waste, 26,500 tonnes of this was shipped to various deprived countries throughout the world.
Mobile phones form the majority of electrical goods shipped abroad and most of them are sent to Hong Kong, the Caribbean and other countries in Latin America. Whereas unwanted computers are sent to Asian countries, and heavier, bulkier items such as TVs are sent to Mexico, Paraguay, China and Venezuela.
Once the e-waste arrives in these countries, it is usually discarded or broken down and used for scrap metal. Unfortunately, this work is usually carried out my young children who are vulnerable to the hazardous fumes in an effort to burn off certain materials. This is explained further by a representative of Greenpeace, “E-waste is often dumped in countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan, Vietnam or China, where there are no facilities for effective recycling. Often plastics are burnt to recover copper and other metals, creating highly toxic dioxins. High levels of cadmium and lead from monitor glass are found in high concentrations in e-waste dumps.”
The reason behind the study was to help governments and businesses plan ahead for the organisation of their e-waste and how they can dispose of it efficiently, safely and responsibly. The WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment) recycling system was established to the UK in 2007. This introduced a recycling procedure to safely dispose of all hazardous electrical goods such as mobile phone, TVs, computers etc.
Here at Hinton’s Waste, we have a comprehensive WEEE recycling plant on site that is well-appointed with specialist equipment in order to meet the government guidelines to recycle all electrical goods safely.
- Large appliances e.g. fridges, cookers, washing machines etc.
- Small appliances e.g. vacuum cleaners, irons, toasters etc.
- IT– e.g. computers and telephones.
- Dispensers e.g. hot drinks dispensers and money dispensers
- Medical equipment e.g. dialysis machines, medical freezers and cardiology equipment.
- Toys and leisure equipment e.g., games consoles and running machines.
- Consumer goods e.g. radios, televisions, hi-fi equipment, camcorders.
- Monitoring and controlling equipment e .g. smoke detectors and thermostats.
- Lighting e.g. fluorescent tubes and lamps.
- Electronic tools – e.g. drills, saws, electric lawnmowers etc.
The more we can encourage the use of these facilities and recycle e-waste such as the ones listed above, the more we can ease up the amount of electrical goods that are being dumped into landfills, or shipped abroad when really they can be recycled and re-used right here in the UK.