Electronic waste is a big problem, and it’s only getting worse. The amount of e-waste generated between 2014 and 2016 increased by 8%, according to a new report by the United Nations University, the International Telecommunications Union, and the International Solid Waste Association. By 2021, the organisations expect e-waste to grow by another 17%.
When electronic devices aren’t properly recycled, the toxins they contain can cause serious health problems if they are released into the air or end up near water or food sources. Unfortunately, only about 20% of electronic devices are properly recycled, while the other 80% or so likely ends up in landfills, being incinerated, traded, or poorly recycled, according to the report.
As you might expect, when it comes to e-waste, some companies are bigger offenders than others, as this chart from Statista, which is based on the report, illustrates. The US has the dubious distinction of not only being near the top when it comes to the most total e-waste generated, but also when it comes to the amount produced per person.