The UN warned this week that many developing countries need to take action to properly collect and recycle electronic waste, as surging sales of electronics in these countries will cause an exponential increase in e-waste over the coming decade. Most e-waste in countries like China is improperly handled, a lot of it is incinerated by backyard recyclers, an activity with serious consequences for the environment and public health.
In South Africa and China for example, the report predicts that by 2020 e-waste from old computers will have jumped by 200 to 400 percent from 2007 levels, and by 500% in India
By that same year in China, e-waste from discarded mobile phones will be about 7 times higher than 2007 levels and, in India, 18 times higher.
By 2020, e-waste from televisions will be 1.5 to 2 times higher in China and India while in India e-waste from discarded refrigerators will double or triple.
China already produces about 2.3 million tonnes (2010 estimate) domestically, second only to the United States with about 3 million tonnes. And, despite having banned e-waste imports, China remains a major e-waste dumping ground for developed countries.