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Those that celebrate Christmas but use it as an excuse for commercialism and excess are likely to be inflicting heavy use on their credit or debit cards over the next few days. I wonder though, whether the news this week that our insatiable desire for electrical and electronic goods produced a frightening 48.9 million tonnes of e-waste globally last year, might make them think twice?
The volume of this waste is rising dramatically. The UK apparently throws out around £762million worth of electronic gadgets each year. It produced 1.3million tonnes of electronic waste in 2012, but the UN predicts that this will rise by a third by 2017.
However, the UK’s not the biggest culprit. An interesting analogy comes with the report on Qatar, which produced 1.1million tonnes of e-waste last year – working out at 139lbs per person. This is the equivalent of 11 times the weight of the Pyramid of Giza or 200 Empire State Buildings!
The Solving the E-Waste Problem (StEP) Initiative - a partnership of UN organisations, industry, governments, non-government and science organisations, has produced an interesting interactive map at http://www.step-initiative.org/index.php/WorldMap.html which compares the amount of e-waste produced by 184 countries (that’s almost as many as Cleanzine goes to!).
If you’re thinking of spending out on electronic gadgets for a friend or loved one for Christmas, take a look at the map first. On a personal level it might save you some money, but on a global level (if everyone takes note) it could make a real difference to those landfill sites if everyone giving gifts uses what they’ve learned to persuade the recipients to dispose responsibly of unwanted gadgets…
Have a happy and safe Christmas and New Year – and look out for our next issue of Cleanzine, which will be with you on 9th January.
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19th December 2013