Gadget mountain rising in Asia threatens health, environment



DATE: 15/01/2017
SOURCE AP


The waste from discarded electronic gadgets and electrical appliances has reached severe levels in East Asia, posing a growing threat to health and the environment unless safe disposal becomes the norm.

China was the biggest culprit with its electronic waste more than doubling, according to a new study by the United Nations University. But nearly every country in the region had massive increases between 2010 and 2015, including those least equipped to deal with the growing mountain of discarded smartphones, computers, TVs, air conditioners and other goods.

On average, electronic waste in the 12 countries in the study had increased by nearly two thirds in the five years, totaling 12.3 million tons in 2015 alone.

Rising incomes in Asia, burgeoning populations of young adults, rapid obsolescence of products due to technological innovation and changes in fashion, on top of illegal global trade in waste, are among factors driving the increases.


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"We are all benefiting from the luxury of these electrical and electronic products to a certain extent, it makes our lives easier, sometimes more complicated," he said. "However if we want to continue like this we must be reusing the resources contained in electronic and electrical equipment."

A smartphone, for example, uses more than half the elements in the periodic table, some of which are very rare, and in the longer-run will be exhausted without recycling, said Kuehr.


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