Annually, Discarded Vapes Equal Six Eiffel Towers In Weight
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Every year, unused cables, electronic toys, LED-decorated novelty clothes, power tools, vaping devices, and countless other small consumer items often not recognized by consumers as e-waste amount to nine billion kilograms of e-waste, one-sixth of all e-waste worldwide.
This “invisible” category of e-waste in one place would equal the weight of almost half a million 40-tonne trucks, enough to form a 5,640 km bumper-to-bumper line of trucks from Rome to Nairobi.
Many of these devices, such as vapes, gaining in popularity in some societies, contain lithium, which makes their battery rechargeable but also causes serious fire risks when the device is discarded.
Moreover, the European Commission considers lithium a ‘strategic raw material’ crucial to Europe’s economy and green energy transition, but supplies are at risk.
Most of these materials are thrown away in household bins and elsewhere.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Forum, which organizes International E-Waste Day every October 14, commissioned the UN Institute for Training and Research to calculate the annual quantities of “invisible” e-waste.
A bulk of the invisible e-waste is in the e-toy category: race car sets, electric trains, music toys, talking dolls and other robotic figures, biking computers, drones, etc. — in all, some 7.3 billion individual items discarded annually, an average of about one e-toy for every man, woman, and child on the earth.
Meanwhile, the estimated 844 million vaping devices each year amount to a mountain of e-waste equal to three times the weight of New York’s Brooklyn Bridge or six Eiffel Towers.
The study also found that millions of pounds of cables containing precious, easily recyclable copper were discarded last year — enough cable to circle the earth 107 times.
Many are stored in homes, perhaps put aside for potential future use. Many people don’t realize they could be recycled — a huge sleeping resource at a time when demand for copper is forecast to rise sixfold by 2030 in Europe alone to meet the needs of strategic sectors such as renewable energy, electric mobility, industry, communications, aerospace, and defense.
The value of raw materials in the global e-waste generated in 2019 was estimated at $57 billion, most of that attributed to iron, copper, and gold components.
Of the overall total, one-sixth or $9.5 billion in material value each year, is in the invisible e-waste category.
Pascal Leroy, Director-General of the WEEE Forum, says: “Invisible e-waste goes unnoticed due to its nature or appearance, leading consumers to overlook its recyclable potential.
“People tend to recognize household electrical products as those they plug in and use regularly. But many people are confused about the waste category into which ancillary, peripheral, specialist, hobby, and leisure products fit and how to have them recycled.”