Africa Could Produce More E-Waste Than Europe by 2017, Experts Say

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Africa, typically a dumping ground for electronic waste from other nations, could produce more e-waste than the European Union by 2017, experts say.

Across Africa, a combination of population growth and increased access to mobile phones and other technology will produce a surge in e-waste over the next five years, Miranda Amachree of Nigeria’s National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency told reporters at the Pan-African Forum on E-Waste.

While the continent has long received thousands of tons of waste for disposal from developing nations, a recent report by the UN Basel Convention found as much as 85 percent of Africa’s e-waste is now local.

That report found that in five West African nations ten times as many people have personal computers as a decade ago, and 100 times as many people have cellphones.

In those countries alone, as much as 1 million tons of domestic e-waste is now generated per year. Katharina Kummer Peiry, of the Basel Convention, said African nations must “move towards more formal recycling in order to ensure precious metals are properly extracted from, say, mobile phones.”

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

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