UN: Electronic waste is a green bomb

UN: Electronic waste is a green bomb

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By EFE / Diario El Mundo

This figure means that each inhabitant of the planet generates an average of seven kilos of technological waste and the calculations foresee that in the next 3 years this waste will increase by a third, according to United Nations documents. The per capita garbage produced varies according to the wealth and environmental awareness of each country, and ranges from the 63 kilos generated by a Qatari, through almost 30 by an American, 23 by a German, 18 by a Spaniard, nine of a Mexican, the seven of a Brazilian or the 620 grams of a Malian.

Many electronic devices, which have an increasingly short life, are loaded with heavy metals that are very harmful to health.

Materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, or zinc can be a long-term source of pollutants if not recycled properly.

Something that is only done with a minimal part of all that garbage, according to the United Nations and environmental security groups.

The United Nations Office for Industrial Development (UNIDO), based in Vienna, estimates that in 2016 developing countries will already produce more electronic waste than industrialized ones. An added challenge because those nations say they have less means to tackle the problem.

To respond to this situation, the UN has launched the StEP Initiative, with the aim of promoting reuse and extending the life span of electronic products. Ruediger Kuehr, executive secretary of StEP, acknowledges that although this is an underestimated environmental problem, it is at least starting to figure on the international political agenda. "We are very early, for the moment we cannot mention that we are on the right track, however at least it is making its way onto the political agenda," the German teacher explained to Efe in Vienna.

"Those who make political decisions, such as governments, are aware that this is a time bomb and that decisions must be made," he says.

The problem harms all countries, because in the rich planet there is not enough recycling either, there is a lack of awareness about the problem and there is a wrong vision of the dangers.

“Consumers (in industrialized countries) are not fully aware of the challenge e-waste creates,” as they see it as a distant problem, harming those who dismantle equipment in a rudimentary way in Africa or Asia. And although this type of recycling in poor conditions is very dangerous, it is only part of the problem. The bottom line is that "only a small part of electronic material is recycled in countries such as Germany, the United Kingdom or the United States," recalls Kuehr.

If on the built planet the lack of electronic recycling is due to low awareness, in developing countries it is simply due to the lack of infrastructure for it.

EFE Agency

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