A recent report from the United Nations University (UNU) highlights the sharp uptick in discarded electronic devices across a dozen Asian countries.
Between 2010 and 2015, e-waste across Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Province of China, Thailand and Vietnam jumped a staggering 63 percent on average. That works out to roughly 12.3 million tons with China alone accounting for more than half of that sum.
The report further found that e-waste generation on a per capita basis in the region was around 22 pounds in 2015. Hong Kong had the highest generation at nearly 48 pounds per capita while Cambodia generated the least amount of electronic-based trash at about 2.4 pounds per person.
Increased incomes appear to be the core factor driving e-waste up. Indeed, with more disposable income comes the desire for people to grow their families. Extra income also affords locals the luxury of purchasing new gadgets and appliances and replacing them more often. The fact that technology is advancing at a rapid pace also plays into residents’ desire to replace hardware more often, as do more trivial factors like fashion.
In their defense, the report notes that many end users simply don’t know that they shouldn’t be tossing out old electronics along with common garbage. What’s more, those who know better often aren’t willing to pay to have electronics properly disposed. Even if such services are offered free, some will neglect to do so if it’s inconvenient or requires extra time and effort.
Image courtesy Andrew McConnell, Panos