97% of Latin America's e-waste is mismanaged, billions in raw material

A United Nations assessment of thirteen Latin American countries shows that 97% of electronic waste is improperly managed.

Published Wed, Jan 26 2022 12:00 AM CST   |   Updated Mon, Feb 21 2022 11:22 PM CST

A new report from the United Nations (UN) analyses the E-waste situation in Latin America.

97% of Latin America's e-waste is mismanaged, billions in raw material 01 | TweakTown.com

The report found that across 13 Latin American countries, electronic waste rose by 49% between 2010 and 2019, roughly equivalent to the world average, but only 3% of it was collected and safely managed compared to the 17.4% global average. In 2019, 206 million citizens in the 13 countries generated 1.3 megatonnes of e-waste, with roughly 30% coming from plastic.

"E-waste constitutes one of the fastest-growing streams of physical waste in today's global environment and is a threat to sustainable development," the report says.

Hazardous substances present in the e-waste includes at least:

  • 2200 kg (4850 lbs) of mercury.
  • 600 kg (1323 lbs) of cadmium.
  • 4.4 million kg ( 9.7 million lbs) of lead.
  • 4 million kg (8.8 million lbs) of brominated flame retardants.
  • 5.6 megatonnes of greenhouse gas equivalents from refrigerants.

Apart from dealing with these hazards, there are some economic incentives to recycle e-waste.

"The e-waste generated regionally in 2019 contained 7000 kg of gold, 310 kg of rare earth metals, 591 million kg of iron, 54 million kg of copper, and 91 million kg of aluminum, representing a total value of roughly US $1.7 billion of secondary raw materials, "said co-author Kees Balde, Senior Scientific Specialist at UNITAR SCYCLE.

You can read more from the report here.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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