Electronic waste or e-waste describes discarded electrical or electronic devices. Used electronics which are destined for reuse, resale, salvage, recycling, or disposal are also considered e-waste. Informal processing of e-waste in developing countries can lead to adverse human health effects and environmental pollution. Electronic scrap components, such as CPUs, contain potentially harmful components such as lead, cadmium, beryllium, or brominated flame retardants. Recycling and disposal of e-waste may involve significant risk to health of workers and communities in developed countries and great care must be taken to avoid unsafe exposure in recycling operations and leaking of materials such as heavy metals from landfills and incinerator ashes.
The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, a joint effort of the ITU, the United Nations University (UNU) and the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA), provides the most comprehensive overview of global e-waste statistics and an unprecedented level of detail, including an overview of the magnitude of the e-waste problem in different regions. The report includes up-to-date information on the amounts of e-waste generated and recycled, makes predictions until 2021, and provides information on the progress made in terms of e-waste legislation. The e-waste volumes are indicative of the recycling industry’s potential to recover secondary resources, as well as setting environmental targets for detoxification. The report highlights the need for better e-waste data and information for policymakers to track progress, identify the need for action, and to achieve sustainable development, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).