UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP said, "This report gives new urgency to establishing ambitious, formal and regulated processes for collecting and managing e-waste via the setting up of large, efficient facilities in China. China is not alone in facing a serious challenge. India, Brazil, Mexico and others may also face rising environmental damage and health problems if e-waste recycling is left to the vagaries of the informal sector. In addition to curbing health problems, boosting developing country e-waste recycling rates can have the potential to generate decent employment, cut greenhouse gas emissions and recover a wide range of valuable metals including silver, gold, palladium, copper and indium [transparent conductive layers in LCD glass], -- by acting now and planning forward many countries can turn an e-challenge into an e-opportunity."
According to the report, a variety of sources to illustrate growth of the e-waste problem: Global e-waste generation is growing by about 40 million tons a year; Manufacturing mobile phones and personal computers consumes 3 per cent of the gold and silver mined worldwide each year; 13 per cent of the palladium and 15 per cent of cobalt; Modern electronics contain up to 60 different elements -- many valuable, some hazardous, and some both.
Additionally, carbon dioxide emissions from the mining and production of copper and precious and rare metals used in electrical and electronic equipment are estimated at over 23 million tonnes -- 0.1 percent of global emissions (not including emissions linked to steel, nickel or aluminum, nor those linked to manufacturing the devices); In the US, more than 150 million mobiles and pagers were sold in 2008, up from 90 million five years before; Globally, more than 1 billion mobile phones were sold in 2007, up from 896 million in 2006; Countries like Senegal and Uganda can expect e-waste flows from PCs alone to increase 4 to 8-fold by 2020.
The report recommends countries establish e-waste management centers of excellence, building on existing organizations working in the area of recycling and waste management. Existing bodies include those supported by the United Nations including the more than 40 National Cleaner Production Centers established by the UN Industrial and Development Organization and the regional centers established under the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal.
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