October 14 this year is the fifth International E-waste Day. The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste Forum, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, released a report estimating that 5.3 billion of the 16 billion phones held by the world’s population will be discarded or left unused this year. The report calls for increased recycling of used phones.
The report said that if the average thickness of phones by 9 mm to calculate, these waste phones stacked up to a height of about 50,000 kilometers, is 120 times the height of the International Space Station orbit, equivalent to one-eighth of the distance from the Earth to the moon.
The Electrical and Electronic Equipment Waste Forum surveyed 8,775 residential households in six European countries from June to September this year and found that each household owned an average of 74 electronic products, such as phones, tablets, laptops and hair dryers, 13 of which were hoarded items, including nine unused but usable items and four items that had been used to break down.
The survey found that the top three reasons for hoarding electronics are “the possibility of using them again in the future,” “the intention to resell or give them to others,” and “affection for old items. Many people will not use the phone in a drawer, box or garage, rather than take it to repair or recycling.
Citing relevant data, AFP reported that the world produces nearly 44.5 million tons of electronic waste each year, discarded phones are just the tip of the iceberg. Electronic waste contains a large number of precious and rare metals, but the degree of recycling is not high.
United Nations Institute for Training and Research expert Keith Bald said: “In the European context, the recycling rate of electronic waste reached 50% to 55%. But in low-income countries, we estimate that it is less than 5 percent, and sometimes less than 1 percent.”
Meanwhile, thousands of tons of e-waste are shipped from developed countries to developing countries every year, adding to the latter’s recycling pressure.