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E-waste in East & Southeast Asia jumps 63 percent in 5 years

E-waste in East & Southeast Asia jumps 63 percent in 5 years
E-waste pile up

New Delhi, Jan 15 (UNI) The volume of discarded electronics in East and Southeast Asia jumped almost two-thirds between 2010 and 2015, and e-waste generation is growing fast in both total volume and per capita measures, new UN research shows. The report urges Governments to clampdown on improper recycling, disposal to conserve resources, avoid serious health and environment threats. Driven by rising incomes and high demand for new gadgets and appliances, the average increase in e-waste across all 12 countries and areas analyzed -- Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam -- was 63 percent in the five years ending in 2015 and totalled 12 point 3 million tonnes – weighting almost two and half times that of the Great Pyramid of Giza. China alone more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015 to 6 point 7 million tonnes, up 107 percent. India is the fifth largest producer of e-waste, discarding roughly 1.85 million tonnes of electronic waste each year, a joint study done earlier by Assocham-KPMG said. The first Regional E-waste Monitor: East and Southeast Asia, was compiled by the UN's think tank, the United Nations University, through its Sustainable Cycles (SCYCLE) Programme and funded by the Japanese Ministry of Environment. Using UN University's estimation methodology, the research shows rising e-waste quantities outpacing population growth. The average e-waste generation per capita in the region was approximately 10 kg in 2015, with the highest generation found in Hong Kong (21 point 7 kg), followed by Singapore (19 point 95 kg) and Taiwan, Province of China (19 point13 kg). There were large differences between nations on the per capita scales, with Cambodia (1 point10 kg), Vietnam (1 point 34 kg) and the Philippines (1 point 35 kg) the lowest e-waste generators per capita in 2015. "For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern," says co-author Ruediger Kuehr of UN University. "The Increasing burden on existing waste collection and treatment systems results in flows towards environmentally unsound recycling and disposal," Kuehr said. Typically, informal recyclers use solvents such as sulphuric acid (for copper) or aqua regia (for gold). The leachate solutions go through separation and purification processes to concentrate the valuable metals and separate impurities. This often results in the release of toxic fumes. "Open burning and acid bath recycling in the informal sector have serious negative impacts on processers' occupational health," Shunichi Honda co-author of this study warns. "In the absence of protective materials such as gloves, glasses, masks, etc, inhalation of and exposure to hazardous chemicals and substances directly affect workers' health," he said. "Associations have been reported between exposure from improper treatment of e-waste and altered thyroid function, reduced lung function, negative birth outcomes, reduced childhood growth, negative mental health outcomes, impaired cognitive development, cytotoxicity and genotoxicity," he warned. "Indirect exposure to these hazardous substances is also a cause of many health issues, particularly for families of informal recyclers, who often live and work in the same location, as well as for communities living in and around the area of informal recycling sites," added co-author Deepali Sinha Khetriwal, Associate Programme Officer, UN University. UNI YSG SNU 1554

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