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Home E-waste


  • Every year 20 to 50 million tonnes of e-waste are generated worldwide (Schwarzer et al., 2005)
  • In 2005 US generated 2.6 million tons of e-waste out of which only 12.6% was recycled (US EPA, 2006)
  • E-waste is currently growing at around 4% per year(Deng et al., 2006)
  • 400 million units of e-waste per year will be scrapped during the rest of this decade (International Association of Electronics Recyclers, 2006)
  • E-waste accounts for 8% of all municipal waste in Europe (Streicher-Porte, 2006)
  • Electronic waste constitutes from 2 to 5% of US municipal solid waste stream and is growing rapidly (Kang and Schoenung, 2005)
  • E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the EU with estimates of between 1kg per person per annum and 20 kg per person per annum and increasing at about 3 times greater than normal municipal solid waste (Darby and Obara, 2005)
  • In China about 20 million electronic household appliances including TV, washing machines, PCs etc) and 70 million cell phones reach end-of-life every year (Yongguang, Qingdong et al., 2006)
  • E-waste contains more than 1000 different substances, many of which are toxic , such as lead, mercury, arsenic, cadmium, selenium, hexavalent chromium, and flame retardants (Widmer et al., 2005)
  • About 70% of the heavy metals (mercury and cadmium) in US landfills come from electronic waste and 40% lead in landfills come from electrical and electronic equipment (Widmer et al., 2005)
  • 22% of the yearly world consumption of mercury is used in electronics manufacture (Realff, Raymond et al., 2004)


  • 500 million computers became obsolete in the US between 1997 and 2007 (Yu et al., 2006)
  • In 2007, it is estimated that 271 millions computers were sold worldwide (Source: Gartner12)
  • One billion PCs will be in use by the end of 2008 - two billion by 2015 with most growth in emerging Brazil, Russia, India, and China (Source: Forrest Research13)
  • Life span of a computer changed from 4-6 years in 1997 to 2 years in 2005 and further decreasing (Hai Yong and Schoenung, 2006)
  • UN study has found that manufacturing a computer and its screen takes at least 240kg of fossil fuels, 22 kg of chemicals and 1.5 tonnes of water – more than the weight of a car (Schwarzer, et al., 2005)
  • An average PC weighs 29.6 kg and consists of metal (43.7%), plastics (23.3%), electronic components (17.3%) and glass (15%)(Berkhout and Hertin, 2004)

Mobile Phones

  • Australians upgrade or exchange their mobile phones every 18 months, meaning there are approximately 16 million unused mobile phones stashed away at home or in the office (Source: AMTA14)
  • Average working life of a mobile phone is 7 years but worldwide the average consumer changes their mobile every 11 months (Sharpe, 2005)
  • Australians purchased 40 million mobile phones in past 5 years including 9.28 million in 2007 (Source: AMTA14)
  • Over 90% of materials in mobile phones can be recovered such as nickel, cadmium, cobalt, gold, silver, copper, plastics and other metals (Source: AMTA14)
  • Over one billion mobile phone handsets were currently in use around the world in 2006 (Canning, 2006)
  • In 2006, it was estimated that each year 130 million mobile phones in the US and 105 million mobile phones in Europe will be thrown away (Canning, 2006)
  • 700 million obsolete phones discarded in 2005 contained an estimated 560,000 kg of lead in the form of solder (Lincoln et al., 2005)