A new report by the United Nations University revealed that the volume of the e-waste in East and South-East Asia jumped by 63% between 2010 and 2015. The report ‘Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia’ compiled by the academic and research arm of the United Nations was funded by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment.

According to the report, China’s e-waste production doubled between 2010 and 2015 and Hong Kong generated 21.7 kg of e-waste per capita in 2015. Total e-waste generated from all the 12 countries of east and south-east Asia is reported to be 12.3 million tonnes.

Ruediger Kuehr of UN University feels, increasing volumes of e-waste are a cause for concern for many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management. He says, “Increasing the burden on existing waste collection and treatment systems results in flows towards environmentally unsound recycling and disposal.”

Innovation in technology and introduction of new products has led to tremendous increase in the usage of gadgets, says the report. The industrializing countries with growing populations, particularly East and South-East region have shown a rapid expansion of middle classes that can afford more gadgets. Also, the usage time of gadgets has decreased creating a necessity to have advanced gadgets as a replacement.

computers dumped

The report also mentions improper and illegal e-waste dumping prevalent in most countries. The offenders are the consumers, dismantlers and recyclers, who release non-functional residues openly in the environment. Practices such as open burning and open dumping of e-wastes cause acute and chronic ill-effects on public health and environment. Deepali Sinha Khetriwal, Associate Programme Officer, UN University warns “Indirect exposure to these hazardous substances is also a cause of many health issues, particularly for families of informal recyclers who often live and work in the same location, as well as for communities living in and around the area of informal recycling sites.”

While Japan, Republic of Korea and Taiwan, Province of China characterized by high per capita e-waste generation have been practicing e-waste specific legislation since late nineties, other countries are yet to enforce strict regulations in proper e-waste recycling, suggests the report. However few control measures are reported to be undertaken by most of the countries. Despite such measures, the control of e-waste in the regions in Asia still remains a major challenge.

Source: United Nations University

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